Inaugural Harvest Tasting NotesWell, here we are at long last, drinking the brewed tea leaves that grew, were harvested, and processed since we visited the farm with the organic certification inspectors three months ago. It's been a meaningful journey that we will be sharing a lot more about soon. But for now, the tea!
As a new crop of organically cultivated hybrid oolong tea, it is a new relationship with the leaves being formed in the making of the tea. There is a balance of oxidation before the leaves are dried and roasting afterward to be foreseen in their processing. This, in effect, is what makes it an artisan oolong tea, and how the leaves respond to roasting is one of the most interesting and intricate aspects.
The first batch was roasted twice to bring out a balance of sweet overtones with a clean astringent finish. The aroma of the brewed leaves is reminiscent of warming spices and roasted vegetables. The brewed tea tastes like toasted grains with hints of floral and leafy notes. It has a subtle yet broad range of flavor that continues to unfold as the leaves are brewed, and organic tea keeps brewing for a while!
The second batch was also roasted twice initially, but starting at a slightly lower temperature. This resulted in this batch having a more distinct aroma and fragrant aftertaste. This tea also brewed just a tad less transparently than the first batch, and the flavor was perhaps less balanced or substantial. These factors made our tea advisor Lisa Lin decide to roast this batch further - to bring it more balance and stability in shelf-life.
On its third roasting Lisa started at an even lower temperature than the initial roast and slowly increased it over the next eight hours until it attained a full, substantially roasted yet mild flavor. At the end of that roast, Lisa felt satisfied, but when she brewed it again the next day, she felt differently. The flavor begged of something that could be brought out even further, and she decided to pursue it by another six hour roasting session. At this stage, the tea leaves produced a subtle yet distinct honey quality that suddenly revealed the characteristic bug-bitten, or Concubine Oolong flavor, after all that roasting! The tea has a woodsy, autumn, straw aroma with a hint of smoky, charcoal roasted sweet potato flavor, and a clean, lingering dried-fruit aftertaste.
We find the two variations in roasting to be representative of a classic organic flavor that is mellow yet substantial, and the brewing capacity of the tea leaves is considerably more than a conventionally grown oolong. They are both very satisfying brews that have a relaxing yet long-lasting energizing and clarifying effect.
We working hard to get the tea all packaged up with all the perks and send them off to you, so please be patient and know that we are on it!
Thank you once again for all your support!
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We can see in the photo of the dried leaves above that they were hand-plucked while still very young and tender. This is evident not only by the size of the leaves, but also in the protective fur that is still on the whitish colored leaf buds. It is this stage of leaf growth, along with the heirloom cultivar of tea tree that give Bi Luo Chun its distinctive character among Green Teas — especially when it is from the first flush of spring tea buds!