This source is the most innovative and progressive tea producer we know. A husband and wife team cooperate with neighboring farmers to produce an impressive array of organically cultivated tea in the historical tea growing region of Songbolin in Nantou County. From wild and heirloom tea strains to modern hybrid cultivars of tea, they have researched and developed eclectic processing methods to make some unique styles of tea. This tea type is perhaps their most novel that we've come across in terms of its processing and curing methods.
This batch of tea is a combination of Four Seasons Spring and Jin Xuan tea leaves that are both heavily oxidized. This combination of hybrid teas offers a broad, balanced character, especially when the have undergone these unique curing methods. The proportionately mixed batch of tea leaves is then aged for one year to allow for post production oxidation. After a year of aging, they undergo an extensive roasting process. The leaves are roasted at low temperature for over 20 hours per session, for a total of 3 roasting sessions, with 3 months of "setting time" between each roasting. After the batch of tea leaves has been roasted to the desired result, it is then aged again for one year to mellow and "settle" in its composition. Finally, the leaves are minimally roasted at low temperature to deplete any acquired moisture content before being vacuum sealed in preparation for sale.
This batch of tea was harvested in 2012 and only reached completion of its curing process in 2016. This artisan has taken tea making to another level. These processing and curing methods are unique in that they are an integration of various traditional and modern tea making methods that produce a character of tea reminiscent of Muzha Tieguanyin from Northern Taiwan. It is not comparable however, given that the tea types used and even the processing methods are quite different. It is simply the character and flavor notes that are experienced in brewing a pot of these tea leaves that bring a traditional Taiwanese Tieguanyin Oolong to mind.
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The most commonly referred to trait in Leafhopper Tea is a honey-essence note in the fragrance as well as the flavor profile. This hint of honey varies greatly from batch to batch of "bug bitten tea", as it is also referred to locally. But the most general characteristic of this tea type is its bold complexity of aroma and flavor. It simply has a substance that clearly distinguishes it from a standard High Mountain Tea.
Above we see a local tea picker turning in freshly picked leaves to be weighed and recorded for commission. These new-growth, tender leaves were harvested on a beautiful sunny day at about 1500 meters elevation in the Shan Lin Xi tea growing region in southern Nantou County, central Taiwan.
Our expressed intention in sharing this batch of tea is to offer Eco-Cha Tea Club members a chance to experience the original unroasted flavor profile of a tea type that, in the local Taiwanese dialect, is simply called "Leafhopper Tea".