Eco-Cha was contacted by Penn State Tea Club on their visit to Taiwan over the New Year. The group of Tea Club travelers expressed their interest in visiting tea country in Central Taiwan. So we met at the Lugu Farmers' Association, where Lisa Lin and Andy hosted the new interactive "Lyrical Flowing Water, Dancing Cups of Tea" exhibit.
But before having tea with Lisa, Tony Lin led us through the newly remodeled tea museum that he designed at the Farmers' Association. Tony and Andy cooperated in providing the English content for the museum.
While Tony's English was more than sufficient as a guide, Andy filled in on the extended chats that rambled through all things tea with our guests.
Along the way, we learned that they all really wanted to take a walk through a tea garden. So, we just walked up the road from the Farmers' Association to a hilltop grove of Qing Xin Oolong that offered a view of Lugu valley. Unfortunately, in this respect, the fog had already begun to climb from the valley floor, but this in itself offered an authentic Dong Ding Oolong country atmosphere. Here are Ryan, Teddy, Emily and Samuel soaking up the "tea chi".
And Andy flipped his lens for a selfie of Andres and he leading the way through the pathless tea grove that was thick with mature growth Qing Xin Oolong tea trees.
Recent rain made the descent down the other side a slippery challenge. Andy shouted an apology to two older women working a distance away for trudging through their farm. They said no worries, and directed us to the best way down. Andy had to say goodbye upon bringing our guests to his favorite restaurant in Lugu, where Oolong Chicken is on the menu along with a delicious selection of local vegetables, including ferns and bamboo shoots. As difficult as it was to leave as they sat down to order, Andy left feeling happy to have met these new tea friends and learn about their impressive Tea Institute At Penn State.
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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.