Songbolin is a historical tea producing region that is home to some of the most skilled Oolong Tea artisans in Taiwan. This batch of tea was procured by a top competition player, and cured with a precision that attained First Prize, Top Prize (top 2%), and Second Category Prize Awards in a local competition. Three entries from the same harvest, roasted in 3 separate batches, attained the top three prizes. Our friend offered us the remainders of these three batches to share with the Eco-Cha Tea Club.
The Nantou City Farmers' Association first held this competition in 1988, when the hybrid strains of Jin Xuan and Tsui Yu were just becoming popular, particularly in the nearby Songbolin tea producing region. This competition follows a similar standard to the Lugu Farmers' Association in that the tea leaves are sufficiently oxidized to allow for a medium roast. Lugu's Dong Ding Oolong Tea, which was then the most renowned tea type in Taiwan, was emulated by Songbolin's production of newly introduced hybrid strains of tea.
This batch of tea that won the highest awards in this competition is testimony to the fact that modern tea production that embodies traditional processing methods can maximize both the quality and value of its produce. These Jin Xuan leaves were made to order by one of Taiwan's most active and successful competition players, who is a master roaster. His depth of knowledge in tea production has given him a significant advantage in his ability to roast the locally produced leaves to their highest potential, and his track record proves it.
We have become good friends with this master roaster who consistently wins the highest ranking awards in almost all of central Taiwan's tea competitions. We have learned a lot in recent years of frequently visiting his home, and absorbing all of his experience in the local industry that he shares with us over countless brews of tea. Once again, we are gratefully privileged to share this world-class tea with the Eco-Cha Tea Club.
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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.