Eco-Cha Oolong Tea Class
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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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.