Eco-Cha Tea Club: Organic Wuyi Hongshui Oolong
Above is a photo of the cured leaves from a single, very small hand-picked harvest of organic Wuyi Hongshui Oolong. The images that follow provide a direct view of the land and growing methods this farmer practices. This post also provides an update on the plot of tea that produced our June batch of organic Wuyi Black Tea.
The images above portray the epitome of natural tea farming, which embodies so much more than the standard organic certification. This farmer has committed to allowing a fully natural environment on his farm, where he has ceased using any machines on this land by only using a handtruck to flatten the grasses that would otherwise overtake the young tea plants. He also removes by hand the grasses that grow in and among the rows of tea trees. Eventually, the young tea trees will fill out and reduce the space between both the individual plants and the rows. But this farmer purposely planted his tea trees further apart to allow for eco-diversity on the land.
We were very excited to share the first substantial crop from this newly planted organic plot of heirloom Wuyi Tea in our June batch. That first harvest from this plot was processed as a Black Tea. The farmer saw our appreciation for that unique batch of tea, and was inspired to respond to our enthusiasm and encouragement by processing the second harvest as a traditional Hongshui Oolong — a tea type that had virtually disappeared in the wake of large scale promotion of High Mountain Tea, but has recently gained popularity among local tea connoisseurs. This is living proof that local tea growers in this region are reclaiming their heritage for producing specialty teas. Furthermore, this farmer is an anomaly in his farming practice. Not only is he pioneering farming methods that we have never seen or heard of in Taiwan before. He is also producing some unique and superior batches of tea.
We are proud to be able to share the first two harvests of Wuyi Oolong from new plants grown by truly organic and natural methods and processed by hand to produce a unique and quality tea. Normally, this farmer does not harvest leaves from his tea plants during summer, but rather allows them to rejuvenate by going through the peak season of their vegetative phase. In this case however, he decided that a minimal harvest of already matured leaves would "boost" the production of new growth on the plants. So his mother, wife, and sister selectively picked the leaves from these plants, resulting in a harvest that produced a mere 10 kg of tea leaves, which is just enough to share with our tea club members!
Leave a comment
Comments will be approved before showing up.
Also in News
The medium oxidized leaves have undergone extensive, repeated roastings that have resulted in a very balanced, integrated character. The initial steepings offer a freshly cut wood aroma with a toasted nutty flavor. This proceeds to open up into a sweeter, more complex profile that is strikingly reminiscent of roasted winter vegetables, including parsnip, caramelized onion and butternut squash.
Mr. Zhang's father cultivated tea on their homesteaded land in Xiaobantian, on the southside of Lugu Township, where he grew up in the midst of traditional tea making. At 20 something, he decided to embody his local tradition by clearing land to cultivate his own plot of tea. For the last 20 years, he has managed his own humble, privately owned plot of tea. Throughout this period, he also acquired seasonal work in tea factories in Lugu, Shanlinxi, Alishan, Fanzaitian, and Lishan. In a word, he learned the ropes of tea making in a comprehensive way, like most tea farmers of his generation. Lugu hosts the highest concentration of tea makers in Taiwan, and is a hub of specialty tea making culture.