Competition Grade Dong Ding Oolong Tea | Eco-Cha Tea Club
This is a photo of the awards ceremony a few years ago at the Yonglong Fenghuang Community Tea Competition. This month's edition of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is from the same day's harvest of spring tea that our source received the Top 2% Award out of 750 odd participants in the spring 2019 competition. This month's batch of tea was prepared the same way as the award winning tea — removing the stems by hand and undergoing repeated roastings to meet the standard of quality set by this local competition. Only residents of this small community of traditional tea makers are eligible to enter this competition. But this is the heart of Dong Ding Oolong Country, and this community boasts the densest population of traditional Oolong Tea artisans in Taiwan, and probably in the world!
We took the snapshot above on the day that we tasted this month's batch of the Tea Club. The recipient of the top 2% award expresses modest pride over his accomplishment! This family of Dong Ding Oolong Tea makers has received First Place award, as well as consistently achieving high ranking awards annually, such as this year's. This is also our ongoing source of Dong Ding Oolong Tea.
Above, Andy waves to the Eco-Cha drone with the father of this family as he weeds the undergrowth around his tea plants by hand. He planted this plot of tea almost 40 years ago. He proudly relates how sustainable farm maintenance has kept is tea trees healthy and prolific until now.
The quality standard of this competition calls for a heavily roasted tea that is balanced out by sufficiently oxidized leaves. Proper oxidation offers a sweetness and smooth, substantial composition that can accommodate extensive roasting. When less oxidized leaves are roasted extensively, the flavor of the tea is a more monotone roasted quality that lacks complexity and balance.
Above is an aerial view of the Yonglong/Fenghuang community. This historical tea making area is unquestionably our favorite tea destination in Taiwan. There is such a rich resource of knowledge and skill in this community that has been making traditional tea for many decades.
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We can see in the photo of the dried leaves above that they were hand-plucked while still very young and tender. This is evident not only by the size of the leaves, but also in the protective fur that is still on the whitish colored leaf buds. It is this stage of leaf growth, along with the heirloom cultivar of tea tree that give Bi Luo Chun its distinctive character among Green Teas — especially when it is from the first flush of spring tea buds!