Light Roast High Mountain Oolong Tea | Eco-Cha Tea Club
This husband and wife couple have become renowned for their tea roasting skills, and their track record of award winning competition teas in the last decade shows it! They have been very generous in sharing their knowledge with us over the years — as well as their teas!
Batch 65 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club was procured by them with the intention of roasting it to the standard of the Lugu Farmers' Association Dong Ding Oolong Tea Competition. It won Second Place Category Award (top 8%) of over 6000 entries. Our batch has only been very delicately roasted — preserving its original fresh character, while balancing out the flavor profile and stabilizing its composition.
The above photo was taken in December 2018, when we shared samples of 3rd Place Award Winning Tea in the same competition. That was their highest award to date. It was an exceptional brew, to say the least!
Our friend said that this month's batch of tea only (!) achieved Second Place Category Award because the roast level was just short of the mark for this competition standard. This is one of the trickiest factors in preparing teas for competition. The tea leaves will inevitably mellow in their roast level after the master determines them to be "done". How fast and how much they will mellow is the unknown factor. So competition players can only estimate the degree of transformation in the constitution of the leaves by the time they are being judged in competition. This means they must go slightly beyond the desired roast level upon completion, hoping that the leaves will "settle down" to the perfect degree. Tea making is truly a science, and requires a comprehensive understanding of the entire production — starting at the the farm, but with dozens of influencing factors to consider in reaching the final goal.
The source of this tea specializes in making tea for the Lugu Farmers' Association. This means that the leaves are oxidized significantly more than the standard of High Mountain Tea, in order to withstand extensive roasting. Our friend procured quite a bit (enough for 7 competition entries) of this day's harvest, because he found it to have a very special balance of floral and fruity notes in the aroma. He felt that the oxidation of the leaves was ideal.
He ended up not having time to roast all of the tea he procured. So that is how we came to be able to source it for the Eco-Cha Tea Club. We also felt, upon first tasting it, that it had a particularly complex, yet balanced composition. We see it as a unique opportunity to share tea that was produced expressly for the largest Oolong Tea competition in the world, but then only slightly roasted. This delicate roasting allows us to experience the character of Oolong Tea that is oxidized sufficiently for post-production roasting, but just barely roasted to maintain its original character. It was roasted in a conventional oven at low temp for 3-4 hours, then left to rest for several days. It was then roasted in the infrared oven shown above at low temp, only for a few hours as well — to balance the flavor profile and bring it to full complexity.
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