Traditional Hong Shui Oolong Tea | Eco-Cha Tea Club
The aerial shot above that we just took last week shows the adjacent Fenghuang and Yonglong Villages, with Phoenix Mountain looming in the distance. These villages, along with nearby Dong Ding Mountain are the three most renowned place names for traditionally made Taiwanese Oolong Tea. Along with the roasted Dong Ding Oolong, its close cousin, the unroasted Hong Shui Oolong is only recently seeing a revival in popularity.
Most traditional tea artisans have refrained from producing Hong Shui Oolong in recent decades due to their perceived lack of consumer demand for it. Dong Ding Oolong has largely maintained its popularity throughout the "age of High Mountain Tea" due to the effectiveness of local competitions that preserve the quality and promote the value of this traditionally made tea. It is only the recent new age renaissance of tea culture in Taiwan that is creating a new demand for other traditional Taiwanese teas, and Hong Shui Oolong is perhaps the most popular in this trend.
We met Mr. Chen when we spent the night in our Lishan High Mountain Tea source's factory last spring. We learned that he specializes in making Hong Shui Oolong in Fenghuang Village, where he was born and raised. It is only with this year's spring harvest that we got the opportunity to procure a small amount of this tea type to share with our Eco-Cha Tea Club members.
We now know that he and a handful of relatives and friends in his village have committed to representing their local traditional specialty of Hong Shui Oolong. This is yet one more door of inspiration that has been opened to us as a result of our continuous effort to delve deep into Taiwan's tea culture and share the treasures that we find. And after decades of exploration, our experience has shown us that these villages above Dong Ding Mountain most significantly represent traditionally made Taiwanese specialty tea.
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Eco-Cha Tea Club's batch #48 is Alishan High Mountain Black Tea. It has a very balanced, integrated flavor profile, and offers subtle notes of a Qing Xin Oolong. The brewed leaves still have a greenish hue, even though the stems are quite reddish, indicating nearly full oxidation. It is an interesting hybrid of tea types, but definitely acts more like a Black Tea made from the small leaf type Qing Xin strain.
This very small fall harvest of naturally cultivated Oolong leaves was painstakingly processed by a father and son team who are top representatives of their local tea industry. The most inspiring fact is that the son is wholeheartedly inheriting his family's tradition, and this small batch of tea is testimony to that.
The name "Hong Shui (Red Water) Oolong" has been a buzzword in Oolong circles in recent years. But the tea makers who have inherited their local tradition say that this is simply a new name for tea processed like their grandfathers taught them. It used to just be called "Oolong Tea"!