What's in the name?
This month's batch of tea being shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a Small Leaf Black Tea made from the summer crop of heirloom Qing Xin Oolong tea leaves. The Qing Xin strain is commonly referred to as simply "Oolong" in the local tea industry here in Taiwan. We, on the other hand, use the term "Oolong" to refer to the processing method of being partially oxidized. So we decided to include the cultivar name for the sake of clarity.
Small Leaf Black Tea is tea made from strains of tea that are cultivated mostly for Oolong Tea making, or partially oxidized teas. These include Qing Xin, Jin Xuan, Tsui Yu, Four Seasons Spring, and more. Small Leaf Type is a general category to be distinguished from Large Leaf Type, which includes Assam, Red Jade #18, Fo Shou, and the Wild Tea strain that is naturally occurring in Taiwan.
In addition to the name of the tea strain, this batch of tea was made by an artisan of Dong Ding Oolong Tea with his family plot of heirloom tea trees. He incorporated Oolong Tea methods in the very first step of solar withering, and the very last step of tightly rolling the tea leaves. So the raw material of the summer crop of heirloom Qing Xin Oolong tea leaves, processed by an Oolong Tea maker by trade offers us this superior quality Black Tea.
What's in the flavor?
This batch of tea offers a complex fruity character in the brewed tea. The aroma is sweet, like stewed pears in syrup and prunes. The flavor is rich and yet delicate in its relatively light-bodied consistency. It has a concentrated quality, but is not at all murky or muddled. This aspect makes it reminiscent of a well oxidized Oolong Tea.
You can see that there is still some green remaining in the coloration of the brewed leaves, even though the leaves have been heavily rolled in the oxidation process. This is the norm in Small Leaf Black Tea making in Taiwan, and, along with the type of raw material, is what sets the flavor profile apart from Large Leaf Black Teas. There is a balanced sweet and dry finish with an especially long lingering aftertaste. The overall character is reminiscent of fruit compote, with just enough tartness to give it a clean mouthfeel.
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