The noticeably yellowish hue on many of the tightly rolled dried leaves shown above is a tell-tale indicator of the Green Leafhopper's presence during the growing season. Tea leaves that are bitten by the Leafhopper undergo a kind of oxidation while they are still growing. The tea tree's immune response to this minute scarring of the leaf is apparently what gives us the unique, robust complex flavor profile of what is simply called "Leafhopper Tea" in the local Taiwanese dialect.
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.
The constitution of bug-bitten leaves offers a challenge to the tea maker that varies from batch to batch. The leaves must be "read" much more carefully, and processed with an intuition that comes only from experience. This skill in processing these batch-specific leaves is as much of a claim to fame as the bug that is responsible for producing them. A successfully made batch of Leafhopper tea is well-balanced and particularly hearty in character. These leaves have significantly more brewing power along with their unique flavor profile. It is the hearty complex character that defines Leafhopper Tea.
Less leaves can be used in brewing this tea as a result of its robust character. And when the brewing concentration is just right, a heady, rich full-flavored profile is attained. We are excited to share this unroasted batch of Leafhopper tea in order to allow Eco-Cha Tea Club members to experience its original character. We find it to be quite distinct from its relatives Oriental Beauty and Concubine tea in that there is a fresh, clean vibrant profile in these lesser processed leaves.
We look forward to hearing our Eco-Cha Tea Club members' experiences of this batch, along with any questions or reflections that may ensue from enjoying this unique tea type. Please post your comments, photos and videos here for all of us to learn from!
Comments will be approved before showing up.
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".
This month's of tea being shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a a first in our experience of sourcing tea in Taiwan for well over 20 years. In recent years, Taiwan's High Mountain Tea Farmers have dedicated a short growing season following their spring harvest to making Black Tea. The original Qing Xin strain along with modern hybrids are cultivated for the production of High Mountain Tea. These strains are generally distinguished from Assam and Taiwan's indigenous wild strain of tea by simple using the term "Small Leaf Type". So Black Tea made with leaves with anything other than Assam or Wild Tea is referred to as Small Leaf Black Tea. This is the first time we've sourced a batch of High Mountain Small Leaf Black Tea that was made with the newer hybrid strain called Ying Xiang #20.