Alishan Late Spring Oolong Tea | Eco-Cha Tea Club
Well, here we are again, happily sharing another batch of tea with the Eco-Cha Tea Club sourced from Mr. Ye. So we are posting some new and some old photos dating back to 2016, and that we shared with our March batch of tea from the same source. This batch of tea was harvested on May 14, from his friend and neighbor's farm. This harvest was about 2 weeks after the spring harvest was generally completed in this area. Only the highest elevations were still harvesting at this point. This is why chose to call this batch "late spring". For some farms in this area, there was little or no harvest due to the fact that there was virtually no rain until mid-late April this year. Mr. Ye's home factory also processes tea harvested from other farms in his community. And Mr. Ye also helps a few of his friends sell their tea by offering samples to customers like us.
We discovered this batch of tea through our mentor, Lisa Lin, who had already purchased a significant amount of this day's harvest. We introduced Lisa to Mr. Ye a few years ago, and she has been sourcing batches of bug bitten spring tea from him every year since. About a month ago, we were sitting at Lisa's tea table, and just happened to ask if she had bought any spring tea from Mr Ye. She said yes, and promptly brewed some for us to try. We were impressed, and called Mr. Ye the next day to see if any of this day's harvest was still available. He said yes. So we went back to Lisa's home the following day to taste the tea again, in a more focused and decisive manner. It was even better than our first experience of it! So we called Mr. Ye again to reserve the remainder of this crop to share with the Eco-Cha Tea Club.
Instead of asking Mr. Ye to send us the tea in the mail, we decided it was time for Lisa and Mr. Ye to meet in person. Lisa had expressed interest in going out to the farm for the last couple years, but it just hadn't happened yet. So we drove out to the factory together to pick up our tea we reserved for the Tea Club. The above photo is the general vicinity of the plot of tea from which this edition of the Eco-Cha Tea Club was harvested,
Mr. Ye is a prime example of Taiwanese country folk. He is a bit shy, and a man of few words, but so real and humble. When we asked if we could go see the farm that this batch was harvested from, Mr. Ye said that it was about a 30 minute ride on a farm road from the factory. The road we had just driven on to the factory was already very narrow, and we could tell that it would only get more "farm roadish" from there. So we didn't impose upon him to drive us there in his mini farm truck. And it was only Mr. Ye's shyness that prevented us from demanding a group photo to commemorate an occasion that was meaningful for us, but just another day for him. So, we followed local etiquette, sat down and drank tea, talked about simple things, waited for a farm hand to deliver a big box of tomatoes as a gift to us. And went on our way. Strictly roots.
Given the fact that we have learned about Taiwanese tea from Lisa for more than 25 years, this visit was a momentous occasion. Now, we were taking our mentor to visit a farmer deep into the hills that we had discovered and introduced to her. In a word, it was an authentic and rewarding occasion. More than once, Lisa commented on our journey home that he is "a real tea farmer". The above shot is a distant view of the same tea farming community, looking down from Zhangshuhu.
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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!