We were honored to have our friend and skilled tea artisan, Young, in attendance for the inaugural Eco-Cha Tea Class. He played the role of attendee until we (surprise) announced that he grew the tea we were all drinking. We finished off with Young taking questions and talking about how the tea was made.
Cold brewed Oolong Tea was waiting for attendees to sip on as they arrived. We brewed three different oolongs both hot and cold for a comparison. Have a look at the color difference between the unroasted, lightly-roasted, and heavily-roasted oolongs in the photos below.
Objective of the class was...
1. Learn the basics of how oolong tea is made and what make's it special.
2. Taste 3 different types of oolong, get a sense of the differences.
3. Know how to brew oolong and have an idea of the types of oolong you like.
The table set up at an Eco-Cha Tea Tasting looked like this...Everyone had a tea judging set, tea to brew, a notebook, tea towel, and tea to take home. This time we brewed Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Oolong Tea, High Mountain Concubine Oolong Tea, and Dong Ding Oolong Tea. Three distinct flavors and types of oolong.
We brewed these three teas in standard judging sets, starting with the lightest tea, moving through to the deepest flavored tea. This process allowed everyone to get a feel for what oxidation and roasting does to the flavors of tea leaves. We moved through three infusions of each tea and observed how the tea changed with each brew.
The two gentlemen we had sitting in the front row were 3rd generation Oolong Tea makers. We had a special surprise for the attendees when we announced that the people who made the tea we were drinking were here and ready to chat all about the tea making process.
By the end of the class everyone had a good sense of what unroasted, medium roasted, and heavily roasted oolong tastes like, just how easy they are to brew at home, and how to chose the oolong for them.
Thanks to Scott from Scott's Laboratory and The Factory- Mojocoffee for lending us his beautiful classroom for this tea tasting. If you're drinking coffee in Taichung, make sure it's at Scott's place!
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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.