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.
Tea grown at high altitude is known for its substantial composition and smooth texture, particularly when the leaves have been sufficiently oxidized. This batch of tea offers that creamy texture and subtle complexity of flavor as a base, with a pronounced charcoal roasted component at the forefront. The charcoal roast is prominent in the first few brews, and the underlying complexity of the tea flavor comes through more and more with each brew.
Spring growing season had a long slow start this year, due to almost no rain until the beginning of April. The long awaited rain gave the tea trees what they needed to bring their spring buds into maturity. And we got a full week of good weather toward the end of the month, which turned out to be perfect timing for both our Shan Lin Xi and Alishan High Mountain Oolong sources.
We feel that the constitution of these tea leaves that were grown at high altitude with optimal farming methods, and crafted by some of the top tea producers in the industry, is what makes this batch so special. We cherish both the knowledge and the quality tea that Mr. Zhuang generously shared with us. We will miss him dearly.