This month's batch of tea being shared in the Eco-Cha Tea Club represents a recent renaissance in Taiwanese tea making. It is from a newly planted crop of heirloom Wuyi tea plants that is 100% naturally cultivated, and cured in a way that combines traditional and modern tea making methods. The leaves were sufficiently oxidized, and left to "settle" for several months before undergoing an extensive roasting process. The result is a character of tea that is reminiscent of the traditional Oolongs from mainland China, such as Dancong and Wuyi Oolongs.
The leaves were baked twice at low temperature for long intervals in a modern tea oven to prepare them for an extensive roasting processing using Longanwood charcoal in woven bamboo baskets. This batch was roasted for a total of six sessions lasting several hours each, and spaced over a couple of months in order to achieve the desired effect of a rich, mellow, yet complex and flavorful brew.
The roasted quality is prominent in the initial aroma coming off the leaves after their first steeping. This smoky, cured character is also evident on the palate, but integrated with a complex dried fruit, caramelized quality that gives it a broad flavor profile. It has a tangy/sweet, bold finish that is particularly satisfying.
From the appearance of the unbrewed, dried tea leaves in the first image above, to the color of the brewed tea, as well as the brewed tea leaves, we can see that these leaves were very carefully cured. In the heavy roast tea category, it is common to find leaves that have been overly roasted, with a very dark appearance and a stiff, burnt texture. This is not the case with this batch. These leaves were cultivated and cured with traditional knowledge and modern expertise to offer an interesting batch of tea with a bold and distinct character.
Please share your experience of this month's batch of the Eco-Cha Tea Club by posting your comments, photos, and/or tasting videos here, and we'll see you next month!
Comments will be approved before showing up.
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".