Competition Grade Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tasting Notes | Eco-Cha Tea Club
Batch 68 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is represents one of Taiwan's most distinctive tea types. It has a bold, mature character that is not easily mistaken for any other type of Taiwan Oolong Tea. It has a medium/heavy level of oxidation, and a heavy roast level. It is both mellow and complex. It has a rich, smoky, woody character complemented by a tangy, fruity quality.
The Tie Guan Yin cultivar is a distinctly aromatic, stronger flavored leaf than its other small leaf type cousins, like Qing Xin Oolong. It can endure heavy roasting and still offer complexity and vivacity. Our source combines it with the hybrid cultivar Tai Cha #12, or Jin Xuan. Jin Xuan is a very versatile strain that is most renowned for its buttery, milky qualities. The balance that is achieved by combining a strong, aromatic cultivar with a milder, soothing one is what goes into the flavor profile of this batch of tea, as well as our regular in store selection of Tie Guan Yin Oolong.
Competition teas not only need to meet the flavor profile standards set by the competition. They also need to be groomed to optimum appearance — namely, uniform coloration, size and shape, with minimal stem material.. We can see from the appearance of these dried leaves that they were rolled with finesse and skill in the traditional fashion. They are not to tightly compressed, because our source does the rolling himself, without the help the commonly used compacting machine that was introduced to the industry over a decade ago.
The spring competition was delayed this year due to COVID, but finally commenced at the end of June. As we related in our tasting video, our friend had already prepared his batches of competition for entry at the normal time, but then it was delayed for over a month. So he needed to do a little "booster roast" in order to ensure that the roast level was sufficient. This was in addition to what he determined to be on the mark more than a month earlier. So it was an added challenge this year, due to the delay. Having said all that, we find this roast level to be the perfect balance to the tangy factor, and everything else going on in the flavor profile!
Notice how the leaves have maintained their suppleness. They have not been roasted into a partially petrified state. And many leaves still have a deep green hue underneath the enzymatic browning (oxidation) and extensive roasting effect on them. This is reflective of the art of traditional tea making.
In this tasting, we used 7g of tea leaves in a 150mL tea judging cup for 2 minutes, then for 2 minutes 30 seconds on the second brew. This method brought out a lot more of the tangy fruity notes in the flavor profile. Although the aromatic profile was predominantly cocoa, and fire roasted yams. When we brewed Gongfu style at a 1:16 brewing ratio, we got a lot more of the mellowed roasty notes when the tea was hot. Then after it cooled, the fruity notes came through. So play with the amount of tea leaves and brewing times. We definitely recommend using boiling temperature water however. These are well-cured leaves. They need heat to wake them up!
Watch the video for the full scoop live!
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Batch 74 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is an Eco-Farmed GABA Oolong Tea. We coined the term Eco-Farmed to represent tea that is sourced from a certified organic tea farm, without representing the certification itself. This farm is not only certified organic, but it is managed with the most natural farming methods we've seen in the local tea industry here in Taiwan. He has pioneered these farming methods, and after 20 years of challenging research, is now successfully managing several plots of tea and producing specialty types of organic tea.