Eco-Cha Tea Club: Heirloom Small Leaf Type Black Tea Tasting Notes
This is a batch of heirloom Qing Xin Oolong tea leaves harvested in June and made into Black Tea, which has been the annual practice on this farm for the last eight years or so. Although this farm is run by one of the most skilled traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea producers we know, the younger generation of this father and son team has made some innovations. And we feel that the son's recent R&D of using their summer crop to make Black Tea is a prime representative of a more general trend in the local industry.
We already knew that this is our favorite source of traditionally made Dong Ding Oolong Tea, but in the last couple years, we've come to realize that their Black Tea is also something very special. In a word, it's the balance of flavor and character that we find unique among Small Leaf Type Black Tea makers. This young tea artisan has learned how to process his family resource of heirloom tea in a way that makes an exceptional Black Tea. There is both a purity and substance of character that sets it apart from the majority of Black Teas, delivering a rich, full flavor that is both satisfying and soothing. The aroma is something like fresh baked plum cobbler, yet the flavor is both clean and richly balanced, with a dry lingering aftertaste that has a finish like a good dessert wine or even champagne. The image below is 8 grams of tea leaves that were brewed in the 150ml gaiwan tea pot viewed above, offering 5 brewings of full flavored tea.
Once again, we cannot help but feel highly privileged to have this kind of access to a thriving local tea culture that we truly believe is the most advanced tea producing scene in the world. The more we explore, the more we realize how progressive this scene really is, and how it is literally the cutting edge of a professional privatized tea industry. So, we happily share this singular batch of Small Leaf Type Black Tea cultivated and cured by a father and son on their own land and in their own factory. We ask you to put it to the test, and tell us what your experience of this tea is, and how it compares to your experience of Black Tea.
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The medium oxidized leaves have undergone extensive, repeated roastings that have resulted in a very balanced, integrated character. The initial steepings offer a freshly cut wood aroma with a toasted nutty flavor. This proceeds to open up into a sweeter, more complex profile that is strikingly reminiscent of roasted winter vegetables, including parsnip, caramelized onion and butternut squash.
Mr. Zhang's father cultivated tea on their homesteaded land in Xiaobantian, on the southside of Lugu Township, where he grew up in the midst of traditional tea making. At 20 something, he decided to embody his local tradition by clearing land to cultivate his own plot of tea. For the last 20 years, he has managed his own humble, privately owned plot of tea. Throughout this period, he also acquired seasonal work in tea factories in Lugu, Shanlinxi, Alishan, Fanzaitian, and Lishan. In a word, he learned the ropes of tea making in a comprehensive way, like most tea farmers of his generation. Lugu hosts the highest concentration of tea makers in Taiwan, and is a hub of specialty tea making culture.