Free global shipping on orders $35 or more!

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Honey Oolong Tea

August 06, 2018

Phoenix Village and Yonglong Village in Lugu Township, Nantou County, Taiwan

Shown above is the historical tea producing community of Yonglong and Fenghuang Villages, located on the ridge just above Dong Ding Mountain. This month's batch of tea being shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club is from our ongoing source of Dong Ding Oolong Tea. 

Dong Ding Oolong Tea Family Farm

A mom, dad, and son team manage their small family farm and process their crops on their own. And the recent spring harvest offered the pleasant surprise of one day's harvest turning out to be Honey Oolong. This name is properly used when the flavor of the tea has a distinct honey character that results from the Green Leafhopper working its magic. The Leafhopper (jacobiasca formosana) is a tiny green bug that likes to feed on the sap of the tender new leaf buds.

Dong Ding Oolong Tea making

The leaf buds being bitten by this tiny green bug creates an immune system response in the plant that changes the chemical compounds in the bitten leaves. The effect, however, is seemingly mysterious and unpredictable! When this batch of tea was finished being processed, this family did not notice a "bug bitten flavor". But then, weeks later, when they began to roast this tea — as usual, in the making of Dong Ding Oolong — the honey flavor was distinctly noticeable after the first roasting! So with this batch that we have to share, the farmer left well enough alone after the first roasting, being quite satisfied with the flavor profile as it is! 

We've heard similar accounts over the years from friends' experiences in roasting bug bitten leaves. The honey character literally appears and disappears, seemingly randomly, as a result of roasting! Our current batch of High Mountain Concubine Oolong has a similar story. Upon first roasting, the honey flavor was quite noticeable, but the artisan wanted a more pronounced roasted character, and proceeded to roast it again. After the second roasting, the honey flavor was gone! So she just packaged it up and let it rest for almost a year, then roasted it again, only to have the honey flavor be more prominent than ever! True story!

Eco-Cha on the farm with local Oolong Tea artisan

When we visited their home to taste their spring tea a few months ago, Mrs. Xie related how, on the day of harvest, the tea pickers were complaining about the relatively minimal yield of this crop. They complained because they are paid by weight. The leaves were more scarce than usual because the growth of the leaves is stunted as a result of being bitten by the Leafhopper. She also said that Leafhoppers were still present among the tea plants on the day of harvest. But that is the magic of this little bug — you just never know what it's going to end up tasting like! This is why it is not popular among tea farmers. It's just too unpredictable in the processing, along with the fact that the yield can be seriously compromised as a result of the stunted growth. So bug bitten tea that turns out well is truly special. It's a unique combination of factors that results in each batch turning out differently.

SUBSCRIBE!

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





Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in News

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Red Oolong Tasting Notes
Eco-Cha Tea Club: Red Oolong Tasting Notes

December 07, 2018

Appearance of the dried leaves is the first step in assessing any loose leaf tea. We can see by the coloration that these leaves are partially oxidized, with both green hues and darker tones. This is the first sign that it is a traditionally made Oolong tea. In recent trends, tea made in this fashion has been given the name "hong Oolong" or Red Oolong. It's actually just a new name for an old recipe.

View full article →

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Red Oolong Tea
Eco-Cha Tea Club: Red Oolong Tea

December 03, 2018

This is what inspired us to share this batch of tea that was produced in Nantou County. We consider this batch of tea to be properly named Red Oolong, simply because the leaves are obviously only partially oxidized. The flavor of the tea has aspects of a Black Tea character while maintaining the fragrant, aromatic complexity of an Oolong.

View full article →

The Science of How Tea Can Prolong Our Lifespan
The Science of How Tea Can Prolong Our Lifespan

November 25, 2018

Drinking tea can actually help protect the health of our DNA, which can prolong our lives. Research has shown that a healthy habit of tea drinking may extend our lives up to five years! 
 
A large group of older Chinese men who drank 3 cups or more of tea daily recorded longer telomere lengths, and almost five years of added life, compared with people who drank one cup or less. The study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, applies to green and black tea.

View full article →