Our summer 2022 batch of Alishan High Mountain Jin Xuan Oolong is an exemplary representative of this category of Taiwan Tea! It is lightly oxidized, offering pronounced milky/buttery notes which the Jin Xuan cultivar is famous for. Given the weather patterns through the early spring growing season compared with the late spring growing season — the second flush offers a more classic Alishan Jin Xuan flavor profile.
Eco-Cha's source of Eco-Farmed High Mountain Oolong is the most remote and natural setting of a tea farm that we have seen in Taiwan. Located on aboriginal land, adjacent to Yushan National Forest Park, it's got a lot going for it — thanks to the husband and wife team who manage it. Our spring batch of tea is a 50/50 blend of two days harvest from their two plots of tea. These two days of harvest were entered separately in the this year's national organic tea competition, and both received awards.
Above we can see the Pinglin District to the southeast of Taipei, but still within New Taipei City limits. Pinglin is not far at all from Taiwan's largest metropolis, but it feels more remote and rural than most developed regions on the island of Taiwan. It really feels like a relic of the past, in stark contrast to the modern city nearby. This rural community that produces a world-renowned tea is a historical landmark in its own right. We are privileged to represent this specialty tea in the international tea community.
Our spring 2022 batch of Li Shan High Mountain Oolong Tea is now on the shelf! Li Shan is a place name that means Pear Mountain. Li Shan High Mountain Tea is the most prestigious name of Taiwan Tea overall. It is home to the highest elevation tea farms on the island of Taiwan, and the climate is ideal for producing the best quality leaf — in the world, arguably!
With the arrival of our spring batch of TaiwanDong Ding Oolong Tea, we were inspired to brew it alongside ourTraditional Dong Ding Oolongas well as our current edition of theEco-Cha Tea Club— which also happens to be a Traditional Dong Ding Oolong. All three teas were harvested this spring from the same community in Lugu, Taiwan.
Spring 2022 Taiwan high mountain tea harvest is slowly but steadily working its way up the mountain! Lower and mid-elevations were harvested by mid-April. Alishan High Mountain Oolong was mostly harvested by the last week in April, as Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Tea picking began.
Reservoir levels in northern and central Taiwan are all almost at full capacity now. This shows Taiwan has had sufficient rainfall, along with traditionally low temperatures through the winter, unlike last year when there was a drought. This all bodes very well for the upcoming spring tea harvest!
We brewed our spring batch of Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Oolong Tea alongside the freshly picked summer batch to observe the differences between these two consecutive harvests from the same source. These two batches exhibited the classic seasonal traits of spring and summer high mountain tea.
Spring is classically the best quality stock of any given year. So it is no surprise at all that it is more flavorful than the summer crop. This is as it should be, given that it costs almost twice as much. So in the end, the value of summer tea wins vs. its cost. It is a prime quality High Mountain Tea from a source we have come to rely on almost solely for our Alishan High Mountain Oolong. And the price is hard to beat. So if you are looking for an everyday drinker that is really quite good quality, this batch is for you!
Above is our choice pick of spring tea from our source of Wenshan Baozhong Tea. It was a surprisingly smooth process of choosing which day's harvest we wanted. At first, when we walked in and saw his tea table maxed out with 10 bowls of pre-brewed tea, and were invited to taste them and choose which one we want, it was rather intimidating!
The photo above shows new leaf growth at the optimal growth stage for harvest, particularly given this year's drought conditions. Normally, the leaves would be a bit larger. But the most essential factor is that there is sufficient new leaf growth that is still in its vibrant growth stage. This is most obviously indicated by pert V-shape contour of the newest growth. The leaves lower down on the newly sprouted branches will eventually flatten out, and settle into their more "permanent" vegetation stage. It's the new, vibrant leaves that are mature enough to have substance, but tender enough to be optimal raw material for premium Alishan High Mountain Oolong Tea.
The Chairman of Taiwan's Department of Agriculture made an appearance in our neighborhood (Zhushan) to conduct a field survey of the impact drought conditions have made on crops of spring tea. The Tea Research and Extension Station reported that yield is down 30-50% from average at lower elevations, and higher elevations are not much better.