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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This month's batch of tea being shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club was made by Mr. Su — an 80 year-old artisan of traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea. He planted a plot of the Tie Guan Yin strain in his backyard several years ago, and this is the second time we've sourced this tea type from him. Mr. Su is our favorite representative of traditionally made tea in Taiwan, and it brings us a special kind of joy to be able to share his tea with our tea club members.
This batch has a particularly sweet character, with slightly tangy, fruity notes and a pleasantly clean lingering aftertaste. It has just enough of that cured, almost fermented character that makes it reminiscent of a traditionally made Tie Guan Yin Oolong. But given that it was only roasted once, it maintains a mild flavor profile similar to a Hong Shui Oolong.