The image above portrays the visual character of the tea being shared in this month's Eco-Cha Tea Club. It's a rich, hearty brew that is both smooth and complex in character, with a heady finish that is specific to an aged Oolong. The bubbles created in the tea pitcher when pouring off the brewed tea also indicate that the essential aromatic oils and other key constituents have been preserved and concentrated in the aging process. We are excited to share this rare batch of Wuyi Oolong that was cultivated, cured, and aged at the southern tip of Taiwan in the tiny village of Gangkou, in Pingtung County.
The dried tea leaves above were harvested from heirloom Wuyi Oolong tea plants and processed in a traditional fashion — similar to Dong Ding Oolong. They were then aged for ten years, being lightly roasted every second year to lock in the essential compounds in the tea leaves and depleting them of any moisture absorbed in the aging process.
The concentrated hue in the brewed tea above that still maintains a transparent quality indicates that moisture content was kept to a minimum. This allows the flavors to be brought forth without being muddled or even lost in the aging process. The flavor profile is an extraordinarily full, rich character with notes of smokiness and even peat, but balanced by a clean, subtle bitter quality and a touch of tangy sweetness that makes it refreshing as well as satisfying. It's a distinctive tea in both its story and its quality.
The story of this tea dates back to the 19th century, when a merchant marine settled on this remote southern coast, and created an anomaly of a tea producing village that has survived to this day. A handful of family-run farms remain from this local tradition that has been passed on for several generations. One of these farmers decided to differentiate his tea from the local norm of making Green Tea, and learned to process his tea as a traditionally made Oolong. He also adopted the practice of choosing one batch a year to set aside for aging. After more than 30 years of perfecting his self-made style of tea, we get to share in this 10 year old batch of Aged Harbor Tea.
Please share your experience of this month's batch from the Eco-Cha Tea Club by posting your comments, photos, and tasting videos here. Only by sharing our experience can we develop a community of tea lovers that embodies a new, global evolution of tea culture. See you next month!
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We recently visited Mr. Liu when we hosted a visitor from Italy who was keen on experiencing the local tea culture. Our guest was truly elated to be served tea by a true artisan of the trade. Mr. Liu served us three different teas that were all locally harvested this past spring. They varied only in their degree oxidation and roasting. And the one that was sufficiently oxidized, but only lightly roasted, immediately impressed us.