When we recently sat down at this farmer's tea table and were served this tea for the first time, we truly felt like it may be the best Black Tea we've ever tasted. It's incredibly rich and smooth yet also carries a complexity and vibrant character that is unique in our experience. The fact that we have been offered the first substantial crop from this newly planted organic plot of heirloom Wuyi Oolong tea only months after we procured our first batch of Wuyi ever from a nearby farm has us very excited! This is living proof that local tea growers in this are reclaiming their heritage for producing specialty teas. And this farmer is an anomaly in his farming practice. Not only is he pioneering farming methods that we have never seen or heard of in Taiwan before. He is also producing some unique and superior batches of tea.
These leaves were hand-picked from a young plot of organically grown Wuyi Oolong plants. At this stage of maturity, the plants have established a root system that provides them with nourishment directly from the soil, with no help from fertilizers or even water! They have been cultivated completely naturally, with only minimal weeding and leaf mulch covering so that they were not overtaken by natural grasses and other wild plant growth. This farming method produces tea trees that are much stronger and healthier in the truest sense — that they are now thriving completely on their own. And this in turn produces tea leaves that are beyond any standard organic practice of administering fertilizers, pest prevention solutions, and irrigation. The constituents in these leaves are much more substantial and result in a quality of tea that is really in its own class. We find this farm and the tea it offers to be unique, and this batch is the best example of this that we've experienced so far.
The consistency and texture of the brewed tea is rich, substantial, and smooth. It balanced while carrying a complexity of aroma and flavor that we have not experienced before in a Black Tea. It is at once, sweet, smoky, fruity and soothing. The subtle balance of flavors shifts with each brew, and yet these leaves have extraordinary endurance, particularly for tea cultivated at this elevation. After our initial infatuation with the lightly oxidized, unroasted batch of Wuyi Oolong a few months ago, we are now inclined to say that this is our new favorite heirloom strain of tea! That's a big statement, and our opinion may change with further explorations of the infinite varieties of tea. But suffice it to say that for now, we are extremely impressed with the type of tea, and particularly this singular, minimal batch that we have to share this month.
We look forward to hearing what our Tea Club members have to say about this batch. Please post your comments, photos, and/or tasting videos here for all of us to see. After all, tea and the culture that manifests around it is for sharing and enriching all of our lives. See you next month for further explorations of small batch gems of tea that we find in our dedicated search!
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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.