Eco-Cha Tea Club: Qing Xin Oolong Black Tea

February 04, 2019 2 Comments

Mama Chen picking tea at 80 years old

The matriarch of the Chen family is in the forefront of the photo above, harvesting tea leaves by hand from their residential farm, as she has for several decades. This plot of tea is considered an heirloom strain of Qing Xin Oolong, as it was planted over 30 years ago. In the local industry, this strain of tea plant is simply called "Oolong" to differentiate it from the newer generations of Taiwanese hybrid strains that have become popular in recent decades. In central Taiwan especially, Qing Xin Oolong is predominantly what is cultivated for traditional tea making as well as High Mountain Tea.

Tea leaves undergoing solar withering in the courtyard of a traditional style farmhouse

Solar withering in the Chen Family courtyard of their traditional 3-sided home.

We  chose the name "Qing Xin Oolong Black Tea" in accordance with the local terminology, which would be simply "Oolong Black Tea" (烏龍紅茶). But because in English, Oolong is the name given to partially oxidized teas, we added the Chinese pinyin of this traditional strain of tea plant that originated in mainland China. Qing Xin literally means "green heart" which describes the appearance of the stem of the leaf.

Mr. Chen in recent years uses his summer crop from his family plot of tea to make Black Tea. His spring and winter crops are made into traditionally made Dong Ding Oolong. Mr. Chen began assisting his father and grandfather in making traditional Oolong Tea when he was 14. He went to night school all through high school, and learned tea making and farming by day. We believe that his expertise as a traditional Oolong Tea maker are a significant influence on the quality of his Black Tea.

Mr. and Mrs. Chen taking a break in the shade outside their homestyle tea factory

Mr. and Mrs. Chen take a break in the shade while the leaves undergo solar withering.

Two aspects of processing these tea leaves that were made into Black Tea are additional reasons for calling it "Oolong Black Tea". The first is that the leaves  have undergone solar withering after being picked. This is the standard initial step in Oolong Tea making, but is unorthodox in Black Tea making. Oolong Tea makers see fit to incorporate solar withering in the making of Black Tea.

Secondly, the leaves were tightly rolled, in the fashion of most Taiwanese Oolongs. Black Tea leaves are typically left unrolled, and dried in a slightly curled shape. Tightly rolling the tea leaves protects them from crumbling, and also makes for much more convenient and space-saving packaging.

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2 Responses

Eco-Cha
Eco-Cha

February 14, 2019

Hi Julie,
Very glad to hear that you are enjoying it! And yes, that was our experience exactly —interestingly complex. The first time we brewed it on our own, after tasting it in the farmer’s home, we brewed it side by side with two other types of Black Tea, and this batch was distinctly more satisfying. We were thrilled to find out that he still had enough from last summer’s harvest to share with the Tea Club! Thanks for your comments, and we’ll be sure to relay your feedback to the maker of this tea.

Julie Lindstrom
Julie Lindstrom

February 13, 2019

I liked it! The flavors were more complex than I was expecting and it took me a minute to sort out what I was tasting. It’s a wonderful tea to just sit and enjoy in a quiet moment.

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