Today is the final day of winter harvest for our source of Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Oolong Tea. We came up to the farm this morning see how conditions were, and to capture the small plot of tea that our batch was harvested from on October 17. This plot had been pruned back slightly after spring harvest, so the new growth following the pruning grew more quickly than the rest of the farm, and required its own day of harvest. Since it was such a small quantity, it did not warrant renting a factory and hiring craftsman to process. So our friend and ongoing source of this tea processed it himself with the help of a few family members in their home factory in Fenghuang Village, Lugu — where he regularly processes the local produce for himself and neighboring farmers.
Mr. Chen had initially intended to make a more heavily oxidized, traditionally made Dong Ding Oolong style tea from this day of harvest. But due to the conditions on the day of harvest, the degree of oxidation in the leaves fell short of what is optimal for making Dong Ding Oolong. We tasted it on the day after it was processed, and appreciated the character of significantly oxidized leaves that offer a substantial composition and very balanced flavor profile which makes a pleasant and satisfying, yet less pronounced alternative to the standard character of a High Mountain Oolong. So we offered to buy the day's harvest in full, given it was only a small fraction of what is normally harvested and processed in one day.
Mr. Chen is not only our closest friend of all the tea artisans we know. He is also one of the most hands-on experienced professionals we know in the industry. He learned how to make tea from his grandfather as a teenager, and has developed a career as a skilled traditional Oolong tea maker, a High Mountain Tea farmer whose produce is in steady demand, and a professional tea judge at the Lugu Farmers' Association for over 20 years.
On our regular visits to the farms and his home factory, we continue to learn — for years-on-end, about this industry that has flourished from the local tradition that he was born into. Now, we need to pack an overnight bag and head up to the factory where today's harvest is being processed for our next lesson!
Watch the tasting video below for a more detailed description of this tea, in comparison to our winter 2019 batch from the same source.
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