Eco-Farmed Jin Xuan GABA Tea | Eco-Cha Tea Club

July 03, 2018 0 Comments

Eco-Cha with organic tea farmer and GABA tea maker on his plot of naturally farmed Jin Xuan Tea

Pioneering Organic Tea Farmer

Mr. Xie is hands-down the most progressive organic tea farmer we know. We've met a handful of boutique tea growers whose radically exclusive ideologies and farming methods set them apart to a degree that they are not really industry players — due to their minimal yields, non-standard produce, and exorbitant prices. Mr. Xie keeps it real. His farming methods are radical, yet practical — and he doesn't flaunt his approach. He simply does what makes sense to him, with deeply rooted convictions about natural farming. He's been at it for over 20 years, and it has been a very hard trail to blaze. He started out surrounded by conventional famers who laughed and scoffed at his approach. Now he has a small crowd of younger farmers following his model.

close up of the new growth on organic Jin Xuan Tea plants in Taiwan

A Model of Sustainability 

In brief, his farming approach includes no use of fertilizers or irrigation, and he also does not cut or pull the weeds that grow in his plots of tea. Rather, he lets them grow to a certain height, and then pushes them over with a hand truck. With these methods, he is slowly transitioning plot after plot of tea in a low elevation region and consequently increasing the quality and value of the tea produced. This is what we find most inspiring in terms of having a sustainable impact on the local industry! In addition to this, he has experimented and developed innovative processing methods — one of which is GABA Tea.

Innovative natural farming methods of pushing down weeds instead of cutting our pulling them

GABA is the abbreviated name of gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is a primary neurotransmitter in our central nervous system. It was discovered in Japan in the 1980's that by oxidizing tea leaves in an anaerobic (oxygen-free) atmosphere, this naturally occurring compound is greatly increased. GABA is now a popular health food supplement around the world that is claimed to reduce anxiety, decrease blood pressure, and have other beneficial effects. 

Specialty GABA Tea

While GABA tea was invented in Japan, it wasn't until Taiwanese tea makers applied their expertise in Oolong Tea processing methods that it became known for its unique qualities of flavor along with its heath benefits. Japanese production of GABA tea is focused on its value as a health food supplement, similar to green tea powder. The tea industry here in Taiwan relies on its differentiating value of quality produce to compensate for its relatively low volume, compared to other tea producing countries.  So when the demand for GABA tea increased, Taiwanese tea makers used their skillful resources and developed a specialty tea with specific healthy attributes.

Mr. Xie told us that GABA tea takes 3 days to make, following the harvest. It is basically an extensive Oolong Tea making process that involves longer solar withering following the harvest, then 8-10 hour sessions of oxidation in vacuum sealed (nitrogen atmosphere) steel cylinders, with alternating 2-3 hours of slowly tumbling the leaves in large bamboo basket cylinders. Three cycles of alternate oxidation and tumbling (about 36 hours total), followed by tumble heating (kill green), primary rolling and drying, and then a full day of rolling and drying to complete the process.

It has been cited that the GABA tea making process also raises levels of gallate esters in the composition of the leaf.  Esters are compounds that provide the aromatic qualities in plants, including herbs and spices. This apparently has a lot to do with what has given Taiwanese GABA Tea its renown. It's notably fruity, like dried papaya, banana, and apricots. It has a concentrated quality to it that seems to be in accord with its extensive processing methods.

This batch of GABA tea was hand-picked from the plot of naturally grown Jin Xuan Tea plants shown above. The entire day's harvest produced a total of less than 20kg of dried tea leaves. This batch was then left to "settle" for a full year. We tasted it last year, not long after it was made and were quite impressed. But we are really glad we heeded Mr. Xie's advice that it would be even better after a year's time.

LET US KNOW!

We really want to know what you think! Leave your impressions or questions in the comment section below!

SUBSCRIBE!

If you enjoyed this post and would like to hear more about the specialty tea industry here in Taiwan, follow us on YouTubeFacebook, and Instagram and please subscribe to our newsletter. Subscribe now and get $5 off your first order!






Also in News

Traditional Dong Ding Oolong | Eco-Cha Tea Club
Traditional Dong Ding Oolong | Eco-Cha Tea Club

May 16, 2022 0 Comments

The figure in the foreground of the photo above is the matriarch of this family of Traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea makers. This pic was snapped a few years ago, and she is now in her late eighties, so she is not the tea picking queen she once was, but she is as talkative and friendly as ever!

View full article →

Taiwan Dong Ding Oolong Spring 2022 | Eco-Cha Teas
Taiwan Dong Ding Oolong Spring 2022 | Eco-Cha Teas

May 12, 2022 0 Comments

With the arrival of our spring batch of Taiwan Dong Ding Oolong Tea, we were inspired to brew it alongside our Traditional Dong Ding Oolong as well as our current edition of the Eco-Cha Tea Club — which also happens to be a Traditional Dong Ding Oolong. All three teas were harvested this spring from the same community in Lugu, Taiwan.

View full article →

Shan Lin Xi Taiwan  High Mountain Oolong Tea Spring 2022 | Eco-Cha Teas
Shan Lin Xi Taiwan High Mountain Oolong Tea Spring 2022 | Eco-Cha Teas

May 05, 2022 0 Comments

Spring 2022 Taiwan high mountain tea harvest is slowly but steadily working its way up the mountain! Lower and mid-elevations were harvested by mid-April. Alishan High Mountain Oolong was mostly harvested by the last week in April, as Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Tea picking began.

View full article →