Last Sunday was the annual gathering of tea lovers from all over Taiwan to partake in the largest tea party on the island, and perhaps in the world. Roughly 2500 people of all ages sat down on a field to simply enjoy tea together. Each designated host brought their own style of tea brewing to the event to share with their guests. Here is our friend Penny, the national champion in the Elementary School Tea Brewing Competition representing her local culture from Lugu, Taiwan.
This is the first year since the event began 6 years ago that I did not brew tea, but instead was part of the working staff. This afforded me the opportunity to walk around and see the seemingly endless variety of tea brewing styles that each host designed and performed for their guests. It was really an amazing spectacle to behold. And it represented in living form the pervasive tea culture that is alive and thriving in Taiwan.
These leaves were harvested by hand from the residential farm that is our ongoing source of Dong Ding Oolong Tea. They were also de-stemmed by hand and roasted extensively to meet the competition standard. The brewed tea has a bold roasted character that is balanced out by a rich, smooth textured and complex flavor profile. It is reminiscent of fire-roasted yams and butternut squash.
This month's edition of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is from the same day's harvest of spring tea that our source received the Top 2% Award out of 750 odd participants in the spring 2019 competition. This month's batch of tea was prepared the same way as the award winning tea — removing the stems by hand and undergoing repeated roastings to meet the standard of quality set by this local competition. Only residents of this small community of traditional tea makers are eligible to enter this competition. But this is the heart of Dong Ding Oolong Country, and this community boasts the densest population of traditional Oolong Tea artisans in Taiwan, and probably in the world!
The complex aroma of the brewed tea leaves has subtle hints of a bug bitten character, but not very obvious. The sufficient oxidation offers a fresh scone scent, with a touch of honey, making us think that there is some influence from the Green Leafhopper. It is very likely that this note is subtle due to the fact that it had rained very near harvest time, which is said to dilute or dissipate the chemical compounds that are responsible for this character of flavor. The texture is smooth and balanced, with delicate complexity.