The tea name Tie Guan Yin Oolong can represent different things. First, it is the name of a tea tree cultivar that originates from Anxi Province in China. This cultivar was brought to Taiwan generations ago, and continues to be popular, although less commonly found than other tea strains. Since Eco-Cha is an exclusive purveyor of specialty Taiwan Tea, we represent this name as a unique processing method that was developed in Muzha, Taipei over 50 years ago.
Taiwan's Tea Research and Extension Station (TRES) is a branch of the central government's Department of Agriculture. This organization was originally established during the Japanese occupation, with over 100 years of history. In the 1970's, a major aspect of its work was to develop the pre-existing tea growing regions in a way that would offer differentiating value to each region, and simultaneously preserve some of the local tea traditions. Based on the prevalent strains fo tea being grown in a given region, combined with the climate conditions, the TRES developed processing methods that would distinguish a particular region by the type of tea that was produced.
The Tie Guan Yin cultivar has a bold and distinctive flavor profile that can handle extensive oxidation and roasting very well. These properties allowed for a recipe to be developed that clearly sets it apart from other tea types. In addition to being heavily oxidized and heavily roasted, Tie Guan Yin Oolong made in the Muzha tradition involves another unique step. After the leaves have been oxidized to the desired extent, and exposed to high heat to cease oxidation, they begin the long, slow process of rolling and drying. During this phase the tea leaves that are shaped into spheres by tightly wrapped canvas are placed in a warmer to gently steam in their own juices. This is the unique step in the Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea making recipe!
After the leaves are fully rolled and dried, they are allowed to settle for several days before beginning their extensive roasting process. Typically, the leaves are roasted over 4 or 5 sessions for a total of 40 to 50 hours. The heavily roasted flavor is what dominates the character of this brewed tea immediately after it is completed. However, if the leaves are allowed to settle for several months, the roast factor mellows and recedes, while the tangy/tart factor that results from the gentle steaming step is revealed. This final result of allowing the leaves to mellow for several months is what we have come to determine as an essential part of the tea making recipe. Only after several months of "settling" do the leaves develop their unique flavor profile and character!
So, now that winter harvest is currently in effect, we just put our spring 2021 batch of Tie Guan Yin Oolong up for sale. We have proven to ourselves that this tea represents its distinct character and flavor profile much better six months after it has been made. So this is how we will offer our batches of Tie Guan Yin Oolong from now on — six months after they're are made, so that the flavor profile is properly representing this unique character of tea!
Check out the video below for the full details and tasting notes on this batch of spring 2021 Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea!
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