As these leaves were slightly more mature than what is typically harvested for expedient processing and consistent quality, they were heavily oxidized, as was common in the region some 50 years ago. This involved about 24 hours of intermittent shuffling of the leaves by hand and allowing them to set for 1-3 hours at a time. In the last several hours, the leaves were put into a large bamboo tumbler to have more impact on the leaves with the goal of uniform and thorough oxidation. Following their exposure to high heat to cease the oxidation process, the leaves were rolled using the traditional method of a loosely bound cloth as opposed the tightly bound modern method. This traditional method of rolling and drying the tea leaves results in a wholly different profile of flavor and consistency. The effect is a rich, smooth texture with a complexity of flavor that exudes a character of handmade artisan tea.
This tea has a very traditionally cured flavor profile. It's soothing yet refreshingly satisfying at the same time. Something about the higher level of oxidation and the very lightly roasted aspect gives it a home-made dessert character, like peach cobbler. It has a tangy sweetness with an underlying hearty, rich aspect that makes it a very substantial, yet not overbearing brew. More and more, we find ourselves appreciating this traditional style of heavier oxidation and lighter roast level that offers a broader flavor profile and a complexity that continues to be intriguing and satisfying brew after brew.
This month's batch that we have to share with our Tea Club members continues to give us inspiration and confidence that we really are sharing something that can't be found on the market. By visiting the sources that we find most interesting and representative of specialty tea producers, we are able to share the fruits of their innovative efforts. This continually reminds us that we are doing something quite special. We are literally sharing our explorations of a world that never ceases to provide new and surprising gifts of knowledge about tea culture, and also unique batches of tea of course!
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This month's batch of tea being shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club was made by Mr. Su — an 80 year-old artisan of traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea. He planted a plot of the Tie Guan Yin strain in his backyard several years ago, and this is the second time we've sourced this tea type from him. Mr. Su is our favorite representative of traditionally made tea in Taiwan, and it brings us a special kind of joy to be able to share his tea with our tea club members.
This batch has a particularly sweet character, with slightly tangy, fruity notes and a pleasantly clean lingering aftertaste. It has just enough of that cured, almost fermented character that makes it reminiscent of a traditionally made Tie Guan Yin Oolong. But given that it was only roasted once, it maintains a mild flavor profile similar to a Hong Shui Oolong.