The leaves in the above image were chosen by one of Taiwan's leading tea professionals who used his personal expertise in carefully roasting them to stabilize their constitution and bring their flavor to its fullest profile. This professional works with local farmers in the renowned village of Zhangshuhu on an annual basis to produce batches of tea that win the highest awards of the largest Oolong tea competitions in the world. The leaves must be properly cultivated, and most importantly properly oxidized before being slightly roasted for the Meishan Farmers' Association Competition.
Sufficient and competent oxidation of the leaves results in a full flavor profile and a balanced brew. It is also necessary for producing optimal results in roasting the leaves after they are rolled and dried. The level of roasting that these leaves have undergone is almost undetectable, unless they are compared side by side with a brew of unroasted leaves. The standard of quality set for this competition has evolved in recent years to require a subtle roasting process that cures and stabilizes the constitution of the tea leaves.
This combination of oxidized leaves with a slight roasting offers a balanced flavor profile that turns the fresh green quality into a sweeter, softer character that is complex and substantial. Instead of the herbal aroma of an unroasted High Mountain Oolong, there is a balanced, floral/vegetal quality with a touch of fresh pastry in the finish. Overall, it is soothing and satisfying in our experience. And due to the mellowed quality, we like to brew this tea type a bit more strongly than an unroasted Oolong. It can handle a more concentrated brew without becoming bitter or astringent. So we invite you to play with the amount of tea leaves you use to discover the spectrum of flavor and character they offer at varied concentrations. This is the privilege that is offered with a fine quality Oolong. There is a range of flavor qualities that can be enjoyed based on how you brew it.
We invite you to share your experience of this month's batch of tea that we are sharing exclusively with the Eco-Cha Tea Club. Post your comments, photos, and videos here for all of us to appreciate and learn from, and we'll 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.