Seasonal Products & The Beauty of Seasonal Flavors
With a small batch seasonal product, like artisan tea, flavors change from season to season. The general qualities of a particular type of tea remain but weather, processing, and roasting will effect the character of each batch. This is the beauty of a hand made seasonal product.
For example, here's a quick comparison of 3 batches of Concubine Oolong from Lugu Taiwan:
2013 Summer: very floral, light, subtle fragrance nicely balanced with the viscous, honey flavor that is characteristic of Concubine.
2014 Summer (our current offering): distinct honey flavor of concubine with a slightly more hearty, robust and balanced character that was brought about by a second roasting - making it more similar to a lightly roasted Dong Ding Oolong.
2014 Summer (same batch as above, different roast): a single roasted batch which is more similar to last year's (2013) batch in that it is lighter and more subtle in character which allows the honey flavor to stand out more distinctly without being balanced out by further roasting, as roasting brings a more robust character to the overall composition.
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The medium oxidized leaves have undergone extensive, repeated roastings that have resulted in a very balanced, integrated character. The initial steepings offer a freshly cut wood aroma with a toasted nutty flavor. This proceeds to open up into a sweeter, more complex profile that is strikingly reminiscent of roasted winter vegetables, including parsnip, caramelized onion and butternut squash.
Mr. Zhang's father cultivated tea on their homesteaded land in Xiaobantian, on the southside of Lugu Township, where he grew up in the midst of traditional tea making. At 20 something, he decided to embody his local tradition by clearing land to cultivate his own plot of tea. For the last 20 years, he has managed his own humble, privately owned plot of tea. Throughout this period, he also acquired seasonal work in tea factories in Lugu, Shanlinxi, Alishan, Fanzaitian, and Lishan. In a word, he learned the ropes of tea making in a comprehensive way, like most tea farmers of his generation. Lugu hosts the highest concentration of tea makers in Taiwan, and is a hub of specialty tea making culture.