We celebrated the conclusion of the Nantou County Global Tea Expo quietly, as the organizer Tony Lin and his wife Lisa were quite relieved to finally relax in their home after the three-week-long event. After staying the night in their home, I visited a few friends in Lu Gu - the home of Dong Ding Oolong Tea, to see how the winter harvest was going. A cold spell early in the growing season slowed the winter flush which has resulted in a repeat of last year's record low winter yield.
The first farmer I dropped in on had already completed his harvest and was roasting his first batch of tea in preparation for the Lu Gu Farmers' Association winter competition. It was a pleasure to taste the first brew of freshly harvested winter leaves that were still in the process of being roasted. The award winning tea maker deemed that they were just about done and had less than an hour left of their long slow roasting process. Mr. Chen is Tony’s cousin and was the first tea farmer I met 20 years ago.
Mr. Chen making New Year's offering in his "Tea Brewing Park" in Xi Tou, Lu Gu Township.
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This month's batch of tea being shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club was made by Mr. Su — an 80 year-old artisan of traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea. He planted a plot of the Tie Guan Yin strain in his backyard several years ago, and this is the second time we've sourced this tea type from him. Mr. Su is our favorite representative of traditionally made tea in Taiwan, and it brings us a special kind of joy to be able to share his tea with our tea club members.
This batch has a particularly sweet character, with slightly tangy, fruity notes and a pleasantly clean lingering aftertaste. It has just enough of that cured, almost fermented character that makes it reminiscent of a traditionally made Tie Guan Yin Oolong. But given that it was only roasted once, it maintains a mild flavor profile similar to a Hong Shui Oolong.