Eco-Cha recently attended a Traditional Dong Ding Oolong tea making workshop conducted by the Lugu Farmers' Association Dong Ding Oolong Tea Competition's team of judges. We recognize this as a very significant event in that it is perhaps the most effective systematized effort to preserve this traditional product of regional origin. Not only is this local competition the world's largest Oolong Tea competition, it has also been the the pioneer and precedent of contemporary tea competitions worldwide. This team of professional tea judges is now comprised of 80 members, from which about half are hired to participate in each semi annual competition.
Last year, our tea mentor Tony Lin, who has developed this competition over the last 30 years, decided that is was important to educate the new generation of tea judges on traditional tea making. So he created this workshop where 4 or 5 elder artisans are invited to demonstrate their tea making methods to their descendants who are organized into teams of about 12 apprentices each. Tony believes that only by offering a direct experience of what is involved in the making of Traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea will this next generation be able to recognize the characteristics of this local specialty, and thereby preserve it in the quality standards on which this competition is based.
Above is a photo of Tony Lin (far right) with the four elder artisans who demonstrated at this year's event. We felt honored by the fact that 3 of these 4 elders are tea makers who we've befriended and sourced tea from for years. We weren't really aware of their status in the local community. We just knew these were our favorite people to visit and learn from and feel privileged to have a share in the tea they cultivated and crafted seasonally. In a word, they make the best tea we've found to date.
Above is a shot of our sourcing director Andy standing proudly next to his all-time favorite tea master Mr. Liu, and his Taiwanese mentor Tony Lin. We are in the process of making a short video documentary of this event so that you can get a "live window" on the local tea culture that thrives in 21st Century Lugu, Taiwan. We look forward to sharing this video with you soon!
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This month's batch of tea being shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club was made by Mr. Su — an 80 year-old artisan of traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea. He planted a plot of the Tie Guan Yin strain in his backyard several years ago, and this is the second time we've sourced this tea type from him. Mr. Su is our favorite representative of traditionally made tea in Taiwan, and it brings us a special kind of joy to be able to share his tea with our tea club members.
This batch has a particularly sweet character, with slightly tangy, fruity notes and a pleasantly clean lingering aftertaste. It has just enough of that cured, almost fermented character that makes it reminiscent of a traditionally made Tie Guan Yin Oolong. But given that it was only roasted once, it maintains a mild flavor profile similar to a Hong Shui Oolong.