We spent several days over the last couple weeks filming in tea country (Lugu) and in Taichung City with the Buddhist-based Da Ai Television station. Eco-Cha will be featured in a full-length program that focuses on innovative expats living in Taiwan. It's been a personally meaningful and fulfilling experience working with such proficient, yet easy-going professionals as Vivien and CC from Da Ai. It will be months before the program is aired, but for now we can share some behind the scene shots. Here we are at Tony and Lisa Lin's tea table playing with tea design ideas.
On Lin Qing-dan's organic tea farm checking out the newly planted tea trees that are overgrown with natural plant growth.
Filming the harvest of a very small crop of naturally cultivated "bug-bitten tea" or "ye-nah-day" in Taiwanese. These young leaves, stunted in growth and partially oxidized while still on the plant as a result of the Green Leaf Hopper, will be made into Concubine Oolong Tea. The combination of these tea trees being pruned back after spring harvest and the minimal yield that results from new growth being "bug bitten" produced a batch of only 20 kg of tea. In the background is the renowned landmark of Phoenix Mountain.
Nick and Vivien ride back with some of the harvest to the home factory less than a kilometer away.
Andy and his tea farmer friend Young share stories and laughs while the leaves are withered in the sun.
Nick helps grandfather and grandson of the household spread the leaves on bamboo trays for indoor oxidation.
After midnight, brewing and tasting the fresh leaves that were harvested that morning. Vivien and CC from Da Ai put in an 18 hour day of filming, directing, and interviewing that day!
This is the tea tasting that Eco-Cha hosted in Taichung. We served three types of Qing Xin Oolong: Shan Lin Xi High Mountain (unroasted), High Mountain Concubine (light roast), and Dong Ding Oolong (heavy roast). Here we have the teas cold brewed to welcome our guests, followed by individual brewings in standard tea tasting wares.
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The appearance of the brewed tea has gained substance, and become a deeper yellowish gold in comparison to the thinner, lighter unroasted brew. This coincides with the flavor profile in that the roasted version is heartier, with a more balanced character. The aroma coming off the leaves from the initial rinse is reminiscent of buttered carrots or yams. After the first brew, the aroma is more like grilled corn, cooling off into freshly baked scones. The second pour brought on stronger roasted vegetable notes, but again cooling off into a pastry aroma.
Red Oolong offers a smooth, balanced, mildly sweet, rich but not quite bold flavor profile, with elements of fruit compote, pumpkin pie, and a hint of dried flowers. This ultra-friendly character, combined with the fact that almost all Red Oolong is cultivated naturally on the southeast coast of Taiwan, facing the wide open Pacific, where the sky reminds a North American of the northern west coast, is no wonder why it is rapidly gaining popularity on the international market. Once again, Taiwan leads the way in Oolong Tea innovation!