This was originally posted as a vendor profile interview on TeaDB. Click here for the full profile.
Eco-Cha was born not only out of a great love for tea, but also out of a life-long friendship.
Our history of sourcing tea began in 1993, when Eco-Cha co-founder Andy Kincart returned to Taiwan after having lived here for a couple years. He returned to Taiwan determined to source tea directly from farms that he knew were only a short distance from his residence in Taichung County.
This conviction was brought about by his experience living in Los Angeles in 1992-93, and combing the city for a source of quality Taiwan tea. He found only over-priced, mediocre quality tea at one store in LA's Chinatown. This actually influenced his decision to move back to Taiwan. He was compelled to be back in the world of tea that he was enamored by in his previous sojourns on the island.
As destiny would have it, Andy was introduced to a family in Lugu, Nantou County during their winter tea harvest of 1993. And this has become his adopted Taiwan family. (In fact he is writing this from their dining room table right now.) He began visiting Lugu and hauling backpacks full of freshly harvested Oolong back to Taichung on a seasonal basis to share with his friends.
Andy ended up returning to the States a few years later, and began importing tea from Taiwan as the sole proprietor of one of the first English websites to export Taiwan tea, “Black Dragon Teas”. He visited Taiwan during spring tea harvest from 1997 to 2000 and had tea shipped to him at winter harvest time. He returned to Taiwan in 2001 and lived has here since. Teaming up with good friends who have also made their home in Taiwan, Eco-Cha was founded to support the artisan tea industry in Taiwan and to share this life-long connection to Taiwan tea culture.
As you can see, Eco-Cha has been growing and developing for a great number of years. We are passionate about tea, and the culture from whence it comes. We hope to inspire this passion in you.
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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.