This month's of tea being shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a first in our experience of sourcing tea in Taiwan for well over 20 years. In recent years, Taiwan's High Mountain Tea Farmers have dedicated a short growing season following their spring harvest to making Black Tea. The original Qing Xin strain along with modern hybrids are cultivated for the production of High Mountain Tea. These strains are generally distinguished from Assam and Taiwan's indigenous wild strain of tea by simple using the term "Small Leaf Type". So Black Tea made with leaves with anything other than Assam or Wild Tea is referred to as Small Leaf Black Tea. This is the first time we've sourced a batch of High Mountain Small Leaf Black Tea that was made with the newer hybrid strain called Ying Xiang #20.
We first tried Ying Xiang #20 several years ago, when an elder Dong Ding Oolong Tea artisan harvested a crop that he had planted before it was even heard about by people in the local industry. This initial batch of Ying Xiang grown in the heart of Dong Ding Oolong country was impressive. It had an aromatic quality that was unique. Its character was similar to the original Qing Xin Oolong strain, but it was a bit milder and, well — tastier! We feel similarly about this batch of Ying Xiang that was grown at 1200m and harvested in June of this year.
These young leaves provide a smooth, mildly sweet character that is readily palatable to any Black Tea lover. We think it will be particularly attractive to those who are just getting into specialty teas, because there is virtually no bitterness or astringency to this brew. It has a fruity fragrance, and a mellow blackberry or currant flavor to it. It is also very "brew friendly" in that it doesn't become overly strong when allowed to steep for longer periods. We recommend starting with a smaller amount of tea leaves, and adjusting from there. These leaves are younger than the standard High Mountain Tea and tightly rolled, so the dried tea leaves have more brewing strength than they appear to have!
We look forward to hearing about your experience of this new and interesting type of Black Tea that we are sharing with our fans and friends for the first time. Feel free to post your tasting notes, comments, photos and videos here for the Eco-Cha Tea Club to enjoy!
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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.