Eco-Cha first sourced tea from this certified organic tea farm in winter 2019 for the Eco-Cha Tea Club, and by winter 2020 harvest, we decided to make Eco-Farmed High Mountain Oolong Tea an in-store selection. This decision was two-fold. The primary reason was that we became aware of the valuable resource of this tea farm, and the natural farming methods this husband and wife team employ. It's located in the Yushan National Forest Park region on aboriginal land that the husband inherited. This couple transitioned to organic farming about 10 years ago, and only in the last few years have reached a stable seasonal yield.
Eco-Cha has facilitated communication with other organic farmers and traditional tea makers, so that this couple can continue to research and improve upon the processing of their high mountain organic produce. It requires much more finesse and attention to detail when working with naturally farmed produce. In a word, it's more challenging. The raw stock of organic leaf material is tougher and requires more rigorous processing to achieve sufficient and uniform oxidation. Encouraging this couple, who just became grandparents, to continue to research and improve upon their production methods has been very meaningful.
We have become close friends, and this is a unique connection in our 25 years of involvement with tea producers in the local Taiwan tea industry. This farm is a rare resource, given its environment and micro-climate. The owners have faced many challenges and only in the last few years have developed their organic farming to a stable situation. Now, with some support and guidance, we believe they will soon be producing some of the best organic tea in Taiwan!
The leaves above are the finished product from the most recent harvest that we helped process in the factory on July 12. This was the first crop that was harvested from this plot of tea since last year, due to the drought we had until May of this year. The new growth was somewhat varied as a result with some immature leaves mixed with fully mature leaves. But the harvested leaves were not overly mature to the point of being tough or leathery. And we can see by the color of the dried leaves that there isn't much "yellowing" which indicates overly mature leaf material.
The brewed tea leaves emit a heady, honey-like, pastry aroma, and the tea is balanced, yet still fresh and vibrant — offering a mildly sweet/savory profile. We brought our share of this batch of tea to our friend in Lugu to lightly roast for us. He is an artisan of traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea, and a professional tea judge for more than 20 years. He explained to us how this type of organic leaf material achieves optimal results by being roasted at low temperature repeatedly. He roasted this batch of tea at 80-90°C for eight hours at a time for three sessions, and then did a final touch session of 3-4 hours before determining it to be done. The flavor and quality was improved significantly as a result of the roasting, and we very much look forward to sitting down with the husband and wife you produced this tea to taste and compare the unroasted tea with the roasted tea. This is where the learning happens, with mutual support and commitment to achieving the best results possible!
Watch the tasting video for the full story and commentary on this batch of tea!
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