Alishan High Mountain Black Tea| Eco-Cha Tea Club
Batch #48 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is an Alishan High Mountain Black Tea. Our source of Alishan High Mountain Oolong and Alishan High Mountain Jin Xuan Oolong makes Black Tea from his summer crop of Qing Xin Oolong tea leaves. The summer crop is actually a bumper crop from their spring harvest. The new leaf growth that was too immature to pick at spring harvest is allowed to continue growing to at least half maturity before it is harvested and processed as Small Leaf Black Tea.
This source has only been making Black Tea for 3 or 4 years, but this year they've made significant progress in producing an exceptional High Mountain Small Leaf Black Tea. We believe it's at least partially because they allowed their leaves to mature a bit more than in previous years. This is recognizable in the appearance of the brewed leaves, and we think that it is also the reason that this batch is much less astringent. In our experience, the previous batches we sampled from this source were fickle to brew, and easily became astringent. This character coincided with the fact that the leaves were quite young.
With each visit to this farm, we find ourselves uttering "This is the most beautiful tea garden"! A prominent reason we say this, beyond the fact that it is quite pretty from almost any point of view, is that it is on a residential farm, interspersed with big trees, and surrounded by forest. It is also at the top of the hill, with no further development above it. At 1200m, the climate provides ideal growing conditions, and is environmentally more sustainable than more remote, higher elevation tea farms.
The owners of this farm and factory are a couple in their early 40's that are really in their prime of their career as specialty tea producers. It is truly a pleasure to visit them — so much so that we seize any opportunity to head into the hills of Alishan Tea Country to see what they are up to!
So please let us know what you think about this batch of Alishan High Mountain Black Tea, and also please post any questions you may have about this month's edition of the Eco-Cha Tea Club!
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Eco-Cha Tea Club's batch #48 is Alishan High Mountain Black Tea. It has a very balanced, integrated flavor profile, and offers subtle notes of a Qing Xin Oolong. The brewed leaves still have a greenish hue, even though the stems are quite reddish, indicating nearly full oxidation. It is an interesting hybrid of tea types, but definitely acts more like a Black Tea made from the small leaf type Qing Xin strain.
This very small fall harvest of naturally cultivated Oolong leaves was painstakingly processed by a father and son team who are top representatives of their local tea industry. The most inspiring fact is that the son is wholeheartedly inheriting his family's tradition, and this small batch of tea is testimony to that.
The name "Hong Shui (Red Water) Oolong" has been a buzzword in Oolong circles in recent years. But the tea makers who have inherited their local tradition say that this is simply a new name for tea processed like their grandfathers taught them. It used to just be called "Oolong Tea"!
The prominent features of this batch of tea are the growing region, the farming methods, weather conditions on the day of harvest, and the degree of oxidation in the leaves in their processing. These factors offer us a premium quality High Mountain Oolong Tea.
The brewed tea offers a creamy, soft pine aroma with a smooth, savory/vegetal character that is very satisfying. It has a lingering, thick yet mild floral aftertaste, with a touch of heady spice. It's this integrated composition that we have come to appreciate most about High Mountain Oolongs. When there is sufficient complexity, combined with a thick, smooth constitution that actually shines the most after it has cooled down, it rates high on our Oolong score chart!