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!
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We recently visited Mr. Liu when we hosted a visitor from Italy who was keen on experiencing the local tea culture. Our guest was truly elated to be served tea by a true artisan of the trade. Mr. Liu served us three different teas that were all locally harvested this past spring. They varied only in their degree oxidation and roasting. And the one that was sufficiently oxidized, but only lightly roasted, immediately impressed us.