Alishan Late Spring Oolong Tea Tasting Notes | Eco-Cha Tea Club
This month's batch of tea being shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club was harvested in mid-May. Spring rains finally arrived at the very end of April, and there were a few days of clear weather in the middle of May, allowing for this late spring harvest in the rural community of Taihe, in Meishan Township. This is the northernmost corner of the Alishan tea growing region.
The dried leaves above show slight scattered yellow coloration, which can indicate two factors. One is more mature leaves, and the other is bug bitten leaves. In this case, it's probably both, but neither factors are overly evidient!
In our experience, more mature leaves are a plus, because they have a more substantial constitution, which results in a heartier brew. Tea makers are more challenged in processing more mature leaves, because they are basically a bit more stubborn in the dehydration and oxidation process. However, the appearance of the brewed leaves shows uniformity and smooth gradient of coloration in the oxidation, indicating that they were skillfully processed. The leaves are thick, yet supple, just how we like them!
The complex aroma of the brewed tea leaves has subtle hints of a bug bitten character, but not very obvious. The sufficient oxidation offers a fresh scone scent, with a touch of honey, making us think that there is some influence from the Green Leafhopper. It is very likely that this note is subtle due to the fact that it had rained very near harvest time, which is said to dilute or dissipate the chemical compounds that are responsible for this character of flavor. The texture is smooth and balanced, with delicate complexity. The flavor profile is light, but balanced and refreshing.
Every once in a while, a batch of High Mountain Oolong will have just the right combination of factors, including seasonal weather, Green Leafhoppers, and proficiency and luck in the curing of the leaves that result in a character of tea like this one. We love finding this type of tea, because its flavor cannot not be fully intended. It's special character is subtle, and not something that is easily pinpointed. This is where our fulfillment comes from in offering this month's edition of the Eco-Cha Tea Club.
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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.