Above is a snapshot of Meishan Farmers' Association's Alishan High Mountain Tea Competition packaging with the seal of Gold Medal Award. The Gold Medal Award is given to the top 15% of all entries in the competition. This month's batch tea was entered into this spring's "New Strain Tea Competition", which represents Jin Xuan (Tai Cha #12), and has over 1000 entries. This complements the Alishan High Mountain Qing Xin Oolong Tea Competition, which boasts over 2000 entries — the second largest tea competition held by a Farmers' Association in Taiwan.
The batch of Jin Xuan Tea leaves shown above were carefully selected, roasted and de-stemmed to attain their optimal quality and value. Due to a shortage of manual labor in recent years, the majority of competition tea batches are de-stemmed using a computerized machine specially designed for this purpose. However, whenever we visit the source of this batch of tea during competition season, 2-4 family members are sitting around a card table draped in black cloth, painstakingly inspecting and selecting only the best quality of the leaves and discarding the rest.
The leaves were delicately roasted to meet the competition quality standard, offering a mild, smooth, well-balanced, buttery-sweet brew. The light roasting can be observed in the color of the brewed tea above, which is more golden than an unroasted High Mountain Tea. We have very much appreciated this standard set by the Meishan Farmers' Association Competitions, as it offers a flavor profile that is between a fresh, green, floral unroasted High Mountain Tea and a rich, bold, complex traditionally made tea, such as Dong Ding Oolong.
It can be seen in the appearance of the brewed leaves above that the leaves have not been substantially altered by the level of roasting they have undergone. Still maintaining most of their green hue, with signs of oxidation evident, but not "shriveled" or "browned" by extensive roasting.
We are excited to share a batch of Jin Xuan Tea leaves that attained Gold Medal Award in the "New Strain" competition, after sharing a Gold Medal Award winning batch of Qing Xing Oolong Tea leaves earlier this year from the complementing competition produced by this Farmers' Association, which is the most renowned and respected competition in the Alishan tea growing region.
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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.