Roasted Jin Xuan Bug Bitten Oolong Tea Tasting Notes | Eco-Cha Tea Club
Well, now that we've spent some time getting to know this tea beyond the initial impression it had on us, along with its specs that qualified it as unique batch worthy of sharing with our tea club members, we can offer a closer look into our experience of brewing and enjoying this tea.
In our previous posts, we provided a background introduction into the source and nature of this batch, as well as what we find to be particularly special about it. Now let's talk about our experience of Roasted Jin Xuan Bug Bitten Tea.
First of all, we found that this batch of tea shows its true colors when significantly less tea leaves are used than a standard roasted Oolong. The subtle notes of aroma and flavor come forth when a lesser amount of tea is brewed. This is an essential aspect of getting to know a unique batch of tea — it demands attention and exploration. With a standard amount of tea, it brewed as a standard mid-elevation roasted Oolong. We couldn't recognize the flavors we experienced when Mr. Lee brewed it for us initially, and when we brewed it conservatively. So we suggest that you start with less tea leaves than you normally brew, particularly for a Gongfu teapot, and go with your own experience from there.
When we use what we found to be the right amount of tea, the bug-bitten factor is obvious as a substantial, smooth, full-bodied character offering aromatic notes that are unique to this batch in our experience. On our most recent visit to the source of this tea, Mr. Lee placed what he determined to be the right amount of leaves in a pre-heated Gongfu teapot and passed it around. He commented that he got notes of cocoa, and we concurred. On the first brew, our whiffer cups offered a woodsy aroma with warming spices and a fruity sweetness that conjured apple pie. The subsequent tasting of the brewed tea embodied a bold, slightly smoky, nutty flavor on the palate with a finish that lingered in the nose like crisp autumn air. As the whiffer cups cooled, a distinct sweetness was noted, along with a mild roasted aspect.
This tea embodies the complex character of naturally cultivated crop of tea that is cured using traditional methods. It is a very small batch of Jin Xuan from a farmer who has committed to going organic, which made his tea special. This is the current embodiment of sustainable artisan tea culture as we know it. It is what we are inspired to support the farmers in producing, and are excited to share with you. A winter crop of tea that bears the presence of the Green Leaf Hopper is hard to find. It is also a crop of tea that is not easily produced. Not only did this farmer have to accept that his yield was significantly decreased by transitioning to organic, but skill and insight was required to bring out the unique qualities of this batch.
In showing our appreciation for our tea club membership, we like to offer an extra surprise with each offering of our monthly selection. This month we decided to offer a separate pack of our normal Jin Xuan that we offer on a continual basis so that you can compare and contrast the qualities in two very different batches of tea made from the same cultivar. This is a perfect example of the intrigue that we experience in our exploration of the local tea industry here in Taiwan. We believe that the range of character that comes from a variety of tea types being cultivated and cured somewhat differently from each privately owned farm is what gives real meaning to our tea club. We want to share our ongoing exploration with you, and we are thrilled to see that you want to come along for the ride!
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Batch 65 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club was initially sourced by our friend for entry into the largest Oolong Tea Competition in the world. The standard of this competition is a medium/heavy roast, so it requires a significant level of oxidation in processing the tea leaves for optimal results. This is where this batch of tea varies most significantly from the market standard of Taiwan's High Mountain Tea. High Mountain Tea is minimally oxidized and unroasted — offering a fresh green character with a floral bouquet. This batch was not only more oxidized, but also delicately roasted to offer a more balanced, sweeter character with fruity and pastry components to compliment the floral notes.