These images are roadside snapshots from our spring tea run last year. Above is a view on the way into the northern side of Alishan Tea Country. The photos below are images of harvest in Zhangshuhu, the highest village in the valley on the northern side of the ridge leading to Alishan Mountain. This month's Eco-Cha Tea Club batch of tea is from last winter's harvest in Zhangshuhu.
Our friend, who is the most successful player we know in Taiwan's tea competitions, sourced 4 batches of tea from this village to be prepared for the winter 2016 competition in the Meishan Farmers' Association. He achieved awards in the Top Place ( top 2%), Gold Medal (top 10%), and Silver Medal (top 16%) categories. This month's Eco-Cha Tea Club batch is a combination of the remainder of tea leaves that achieved Gold and Silver Medal awards in a competition of more than 1000 entries.
Eco-Cha has been procuring tea from Zhangshuhu for almost 20 years. In fact it was a motorcycle ride to visit our tea farmer friend who has the second highest elevation tea farm in the valley that planted the seeds of our partnership over 10 years ago. Humbly speaking, this month's batch of tea that a leading Taiwanese tea professional won awards with is perhaps the finest we've tasted from this village. The Meishan Farmer's Association is the largest High Mountain Tea competition in Taiwan. It's current standard is based on a minimal roasting to stabilize the constitution in the leaves and mellow the character ever-so-slightly, to give it a more substantial character and preserve its freshness.
We are pleased with the recent evolution of the competition standard from this association, as it offers a more full-bodied, smooth, and substantial brew than the commercial standard of a greener, minimally oxidized, and unroasted leaf. In fact, this standard of a flavor profile warrants a more quality leaf along with more labor, care and skill in the making. We are proud to share it with our Tea Club members. We encourage you to share your experience of this batch with all of us in the Eco-Cha Tea Club by posting your comments, photos, and videos here.
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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.