The above photo was taken just after the recent spring harvest of this plot of naturally cultivated heirloom Wuyi Oolong Tea. So what we see here is the contrast in coloration of the light green new growth leaves, juxtaposed against the older leaves on the perennial tea tree. The Wuyi tea leaves are noticeably narrower than other tea strains, and this is a significant reason why Wuyi has become a rare breed in contemporary Taiwanese tea production. The perennial yield is significantly less in volume than other tea types, particularly modern hybrid strains. This is the same plot of tea that we shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club in March 2016, which was the first real harvest from this young plot of tea.
The plants are healthy and abundant after a slow start, taking about twice as long to mature in comparison to conventional farming methods. This plot of tea has been cultivated with zero chemical fertilizers or pesticides, and each harvest has undergone standardized testing for trace chemical residue with ND results, meaning no trace residues were detected. This, along with another nearby plot of organically grown Wuyi Oolong that we also shared harvests from last year represent a renaissance of a tea type that was cultivated in this area up until about 30 years ago. In short, a couple of courageous tea farmers are reclaiming their roots and representing their heritage after a generation of modern development in the tea industry.
The first batch of tea that we shared from this plot of Wuyi tea plants was left unroasted, in the fashion of Taiwan's High Mountain Tea. This one is on the other end of the roasting scale, having undergone 6 roasting sessions in total. After being roasted in conventional modern ovens twice, this batch was handed over to a professional charcoal tea roaster. This is all the guy does: roast tea in woven bamboo baskets, using charcoal made from the Longan fruit tree. He does not let anyone into his workshop, and keeps his traditional secrets to himself, which he has been developing for several decades. He also roasted this year's January batch that we shared with our Eco-Cha Tea Club members, which our members have raved about.
So here we have it, a naturally cultivated plot of heirloom Wuyi tea plants that our friend combined last spring and winter harvests to roast in a traditional fashion to represent his cultural roots in a way that is perhaps unprecedented in his already very successful career as a tea craftsman and merchant. This is why we feel obligated to share this small, singular batch of tea with our tea club members. We are confident that you will appreciate it!
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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".