Roasted Leafhopper High Mountain Oolong Tea

March 09, 2018

A leafhopper, the mystical bug behind "bug bitten tea."

Last November, Eco-Cha Tea Club members got to experience the original unroasted flavor profile of a Leafhopper High Mountain Oolong, also referred to simply as "bug bitten tea", or "yeh nah day" in the Taiwanese dialect. When we sourced that batch of tea, we conceived of a "secret" plan to first share half of this batch of tea unroasted, then roast the other half in order to give our members the opportunity to taste the difference between the unroasted and roasted versions of the very same batch of Leafhopper High Mountain Oolong Tea.

Xueba National Park in northern Taiwan

This batch of tea comes from the most recently developed High Mountain Oolong Tea producing region, located in northern Taiwan. Here in the industry, it is most commonly referred to as Guanwushan, in the vicinity of Xueba National Park (photo above). The rugged high elevation slopes of the northernmost central mountain range provide an ideal climate for High Mountain Tea production.

This crop was harvested in June, when the new leaf growth following early spring harvest was allowed to grow naturally. In effect, it was an invitation for the legendary Green Leafhopper to come and perform its magic. This tiny grasshopper-like insect likes to feed on the sap of the new leaves, which results in a chemical composition in the leaf that offers a unique honey-essence flavor in the tea. The Leafhopper is what creates the renowned Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea from northern Taiwan, and the subsequent Concubine Oolong produced in central Taiwan.

The tea leaves were allowed to oxidize significantly more than a standard High Mountain Oolong Tea. The effect of the Leafhopper, combined with a customized processing results in a particularly full-flavored, strong character.  Tea leaves of this constitution literally have more substance that results in a bold and complex flavor profile.

Brewing up some tea

Our dear friend who we first met over 20 years ago was kind enough to share half of the amount of tea that he sourced with us. He knows we are always looking for special batches of tea for our Tea Club, and invited us to come taste this one. He never says "Do you want some of this tea?", but the invitation to taste it is itself is his way of offering it. And when we asked him if he would be willing to roast half of our share, he did not hesitate.

After decades of managing his family farm, A-bao now specializes in tea roasting. He sources tea from many sources, and carefully considers the character of each batch and roasts the leaves according to his assessment. He roasted this batch of tea twice, for a total of nearly 20 hours, starting at less than 100°C and finishing at over 120°C. We are excited to be offering this educational experience of two versions of the same batch of "bug bitten" High Mountain Tea with our Tea Club members.

If you're not part of the Eco-Cha Tea Club and would love a chance to taste and sample unique, hard-to-find artisan teas from Taiwan, sign up for the club here!





Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in News

Tea sourcing trip by motorcycle to the Alishan region of Taiwan
Alishan High Mountain Oolong Fall 2020 Tea Sourcing Trip

September 24, 2020

It was a beautiful morning, and although the sun was quite strong, it felt so good to be doing what we love most — riding into the hills to source quality Taiwanese Tea! We've ridden this rode at dozens of times over the last 20+ years, and it never gets old. Each time we take this trip, we see these mountains in a different light. As far as we recall, this is the first time we stopped at this awesome spot on this bridge!

View full article →

Hong Shui Oolong Tea
Traditional Hong Shui Oolong Tea Tasting Notes | Eco-Cha Tea Club

September 11, 2020

The full flavored character reflects the mastery that evolved from pre-modern tea producing methods — which our friend learned from his grandfather as a teenager. It's a rich, fruity, complex flavor profile with classic mineral notes, and a vibrant, truly satisfying finish. This, this is the real deal when it comes to traditionally made Oolong Tea from Nantou County, Taiwan!

View full article →

Grandma Chen maker of Traditional Hong Shui Oolong Tea
Traditional Hong Shui Oolong Tea | Eco-Cha Tea Club

September 07, 2020

Batch 58 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a Hong Shui Oolong made in the traditional fashion by our friend in his home factory in Phoenix Village, Taiwan. He let his family plot of tea behind their traditional 3-sided farmhouse continue to grow after spring harvest in April until the last few days in July. This allows the tea trees to rejuvenate by growing naturally during the most vegetative phase of their annual cycle. He then harvested just the tops of the new growth before pruning his trees for fall harvest.

View full article →