This batch of tea was harvested from the family-run farm where we regularly source our Dong Ding Oolong. They noticed the presence of the Green Leafhopper on this plot, and harvested it independently from other plots so they could specially process these leaves by letting them oxidize more than normal. The leaves were then only roasted once at low temperature to completely cure them. Here is the single, small batch harvest undergoing solar withering in the courtyard of their traditional home factory, followed by indoor withering on bamboo trays below.
Bug-bitten leaves are tricky to process, and have relatively unpredictable results, so the artisan must rely on experience and understanding of the unique condition of the leaves when harvested to achieve the desired result. Our friend decided that heavier oxidation of the leaves would produce a more balanced composition, which proved correct. He then decided not to risk losing the elusive "honey fragrance" by roasting the leaves to the degree of a more standard Concubine or Dong Ding Oolong. The final result is a batch of tea that is similar to a Hongshui Oolong, but with a distinct "honey fragrance" character that puts it in a flavor profile of its own. We were delighted and surprised to be offered a rare batch of bug-bitten tea from a winter harvest at mid-elevation, as it is a very unusual occurrence. And this natural phenomenon combined with the leaves being processed with traditional expertise has produced a unique batch that is an exciting start of our second year of the Eco-Cha Tea Club.
The bright green speck on a leaf in the slightly blurred phone shot above is what makes Honey Fragrance Oolong tea — The Green Leafhopper. A tiny flying insect appears in tea gardens when the combined timing of weather and new leaf growth is just right. It really is a bit of nature's magic at work along with traditional knowledge that provides us with a unique batch of tea like this one. We look forward to hearing about your experience of this winter harvest of Honey Fragrance Oolong!
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The most commonly referred to trait in Leafhopper Tea is a honey-essence note in the fragrance as well as the flavor profile. This hint of honey varies greatly from batch to batch of "bug bitten tea", as it is also referred to locally. But the most general characteristic of this tea type is its bold complexity of aroma and flavor. It simply has a substance that clearly distinguishes it from a standard High Mountain Tea.
Above we see a local tea picker turning in freshly picked leaves to be weighed and recorded for commission. These new-growth, tender leaves were harvested on a beautiful sunny day at about 1500 meters elevation in the Shan Lin Xi tea growing region in southern Nantou County, central Taiwan.
Our expressed intention in sharing this batch of tea is to offer Eco-Cha Tea Club members a chance to experience the original unroasted flavor profile of a tea type that, in the local Taiwanese dialect, is simply called "Leafhopper Tea".