FREE GLOBAL SHIPPING ON ORDERS OVER $75.

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Heirloom Small Leaf Type Black Tea

October 06, 2016

Above is a closeup shot of the tea garden that this batch of tea was harvested from in Yonglong Village, Taiwan. It is an heirloom crop of Qing Xin Oolong in the sense that the original trees were planted about 40 years ago and propagated in the traditional manner. This involves binding down some of the branches of an established tea plant and burying the supple new growth branches enough for them to take root. This is the most guaranteed way of preserving the original nature of the plant and preventing mutations that can naturally occur from using cuttings, or especially growing from seed. Since this method is labor intensive and takes much longer, it was phased out by commercial production of tea saplings to establish new plots of tea much more expediently. The purchasing of saplings also has much greater potential of resulting in variations within a given strain, due to the unknown factors of their origins and cultivation methods. The image below shows Phoenix Mountain in the background, looming behind this ridge where Yonglong and Phoenix village are perched above Dong Ding Mountain which comprise the historical origins of Dong Ding Oolong Tea in Taiwan.

As we can see in these photos, this plot of tea is still in a thriving state of health and abundance. The father of this family-run farm attributes this to the fact that he has never used chemical weed killers on his land, and only uses natural fertilizers. This stands in contrast to the majority of farms that were established around the same time and later, which have already been retired or replanted due to the tea trees diminishing in health and productivity. We are happy to say that the new generation of tea farmers has mostly ceased using weed killers, and natural fertilizers have become the norm. This sustainable trend gives us renewed hope in this historical resource, especially since new crops of traditional strains, such as Tieguanyin and Wuyi have only recently been planted. We are inspired by this new growth in one of the most significant traditional tea making regions in Taiwan.

The quality of tea that is made from these heirloom plants sets it apart from the more recent generations of tea farms that have been established. We showed these photos to our friend from a neighboring village who is a 52 year old 4th generation tea farmer, and he instantly recognized the shape and size of the leaves as distinct from more "modern strains" of Qing Xin Oolong. We are confident in saying that the cultivation practices on this farm along with the strain that was planted 40 years ago distinguish it as a rare and valuable resource. We feel honored that this is our ongoing source of traditionally made Dong Ding Oolong. And we are delighted to share a batch of tea that was harvested in June and processed as Black Tea by the young and talented son of this family-run farm — equipped with its own private on-site factory. 

This production of Black Tea between late spring and fall is a new trend of tea production in the heart of Oolong Country, using "Small Leaf Type" strains normally used for making Oolong (partially oxidized) Tea. The compounds in the tea leaves grown in warmer seasons are optimally processed as Black Tea. In fact, the renowned historical region of Sun Moon Lake professes that its prime quality seasonal yield is from May to August. This area largely produces "Large Leaf Type" tea, namely Assam and the indigenous wild tea strain, and now most prominently, the hybrid of Assam and Wild Tea known as Red Jade, or Tai Cha #18. 

There has been an increasing trend in central Taiwan to use summer harvests of what otherwise is processed as High Mountain Tea or Dong Ding Oolong style tea. These seasonal batches of Small Leaf Type Black Tea have quickly gained popularity on the domestic market. We now feel inspired to represent this trend by introducing the most rare and quality produce of this type. In the last 12 months of seeking out and deciding upon our next monthly Eco-Cha Tea Club batch, we have chosen 3 very distinct batches of Black Tea, all made from Small Leaf Type strains.

We really would love to hear about your experiences of these batches of Black Tea that we've shared in the last year. Go ahead and post your comments on this batch along with your recollections of the previous batches here!

 





Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in News

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Gold Medal Award Dong Ding Jin Xuan Oolong Tea Tasting Notes
Eco-Cha Tea Club: Gold Medal Award Dong Ding Jin Xuan Oolong Tea Tasting Notes

April 03, 2018

With the first brew poured off, the leaves offer a distinctly roasted character with nutty, fruitwood fireside notes. After the second brew the aroma of the brewed leaves turns a bit fruity, with a warming spice sweetness reminiscent of pumpkin pie. The tea has a roasted flavor upfront, followed by a sweetness like grilled fresh corn. Then it moves into a more balanced, rich, complex character and smooth texture. The second visual assessment of competition teas is the purity of color and transparency of the brewed tea. It should be clear and luminescent.

View full article →

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Gold Medal Award Dong Ding Jin Xuan Oolong Tea
Eco-Cha Tea Club: Gold Medal Award Dong Ding Jin Xuan Oolong Tea

April 02, 2018

This month's batch of tea being shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club was entered into the winter 2017 Nantou County Tea Trade Association's Dong Ding Jin Xuan Tea Competition, and received the Gold Medal Award. This award ranks within the top 5% of all entries. This competition has been in existence for almost 25 years. It began with the development of Jin Xuan tea production in the early 1990's.

View full article →

Eco-Cha Teas cold brew tea bottle
Cold Brew Tea Bottle

March 21, 2018

Contrary to what the recent weather has indicated, spring IS on its way! And while all those pots of freshly brewed hot tea provided warmth and well-being through the winter, it's time to start getting out and about. But there's no need to leave your beloved tea at home. From now until March 31st, order $50 or more of tea and you'll get this free cold brew tea bottle (retail value $15.99) to take your tea along with you! Make your order $75 or more, you'll also get free global shipping!

View full article →