FREE GLOBAL SHIPPING ON ORDERS OVER $75.

A Token Gift Of Travel Tea

September 26, 2015

I recently visited a friend who supplies us with some of our most popular teas before I left Taiwan on a trip to the USA. And as I sat down at his tea table, he offered to brew a pot of his Top Prize (top 2% of 6000+ entries) winning tea in this spring's Lugu Farmers' Association Dong Ding Oolong Tea competition. At first sip I was very impressed, but also somewhat surprised at the relatively light roasted quality and commented on this. My friend, who regularly achieves high-ranking awards in this competition, proceeded to explain the specific qualities that he aims for, and the process of achieving them in crafting the tea. 

As the Lugu Farmers' Association is the world's largest single proponent of traditional Oolong Tea, my friend described the qualities that are sought in this competition. Basically, an exemplary Dong Ding Oolong should be complex, yet well-balanced in all aspects. There should be no singular attribute that significantly dominates over others. There should be a noticeable quality of ripeness and subtle sweetness combined with vibrant complexity of flavor. These qualities are attained by proper cultivation Qing Xin Oolong tea plants, followed by skillful processing. The first step that is essential in the processing is solar withering. This is the foundation of properly oxidizing the leaves. Proper oxidation is what results in the balanced, ripe, mellowed quality in a traditional Oolong. Oxidation of the leaves is paralleled by uniform depletion of moisture from the leaves. After the leaves have been oxidized to the desired degree, they are tossed in high temperature tumble dryers. This is also a crucial step, requiring proper analysis of the condition of the tea leaves and adjusting the timing accordingly. After this, uniform moisture depletion and optimal oxidation is achieved by a long repetitive process of intermittently rolling and drying the leaves. And finally, after the leaves are completely rolled and dried into a small spherical shape, they are roasted at low temperature.

I responded by relating my own perspective on the original reasons why traditional teas are significantly oxidized and roasted. As I see it, traditional products are the outcome of generations of experience, involving quirky mistakes and innovative experimentation. Slowly, discoveries are made and further modified in an attempt to attain optimal overall results. A significant part of this is the premodern methods of preserving food products. It is the curing of foods for optimal storage that results in many types of traditional products of regional origin.

He went on to talk about why greener teas are prone to developing a more noticeable stale flavor as opposed to cured (by oxidation and roasting) teas. It has to do with naturally occurring aromatic oil compounds in the tea plant. When I mentioned that I had read a research article long ago that stated there were more than a dozen volatile aromatic oils found in tea leaves. He replied that there are over 100 fatty compounds found in various types of tea leaves that all contribute to the flavor and fragrance. These compounds transform in the processing of tea leaves. The more processing the leaves undergo, the more these compounds are transformed. Simple enough. But a significant reason for processing tea leaves in order to transform these compounds is to make them more stable, i.e. less volatile. Basically it's the same with fruits and vegetables, but a bit more subtle and complex.

It is this complexity involved in the making of traditional teas that adds value to them. They not only become more stable and less prone to going stale, but there is a richness and complexity of character that results from these traditional curing methods. In the end, there is a special quality in each type of tea, just as there is a special quality in both fresh fruits and vegetables as well as when they are cooked or cured properly.

My friend ended up sharing a small amount of the remainder of this award winning tea that proved to be quite delicious as it transformed in quality over several brews. I proudly took it across the globe to share with a friend in Los Angeles who has appreciated the Dong Ding Oolong that we have shared with him for over a decade.





Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in News

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Gold Medal Award Dong Ding Jin Xuan Oolong Tea Tasting Notes
Eco-Cha Tea Club: Gold Medal Award Dong Ding Jin Xuan Oolong Tea Tasting Notes

April 03, 2018

With the first brew poured off, the leaves offer a distinctly roasted character with nutty, fruitwood fireside notes. After the second brew the aroma of the brewed leaves turns a bit fruity, with a warming spice sweetness reminiscent of pumpkin pie. The tea has a roasted flavor upfront, followed by a sweetness like grilled fresh corn. Then it moves into a more balanced, rich, complex character and smooth texture. The second visual assessment of competition teas is the purity of color and transparency of the brewed tea. It should be clear and luminescent.

View full article →

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Gold Medal Award Dong Ding Jin Xuan Oolong Tea
Eco-Cha Tea Club: Gold Medal Award Dong Ding Jin Xuan Oolong Tea

April 02, 2018

This month's batch of tea being shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club was entered into the winter 2017 Nantou County Tea Trade Association's Dong Ding Jin Xuan Tea Competition, and received the Gold Medal Award. This award ranks within the top 5% of all entries. This competition has been in existence for almost 25 years. It began with the development of Jin Xuan tea production in the early 1990's.

View full article →

Eco-Cha Teas cold brew tea bottle
Cold Brew Tea Bottle

March 21, 2018

Contrary to what the recent weather has indicated, spring IS on its way! And while all those pots of freshly brewed hot tea provided warmth and well-being through the winter, it's time to start getting out and about. But there's no need to leave your beloved tea at home. From now until March 31st, order $50 or more of tea and you'll get this free cold brew tea bottle (retail value $15.99) to take your tea along with you! Make your order $75 or more, you'll also get free global shipping!

View full article →