Eco-Cha recently attended a Traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea making workshop conducted by the (Taiwan) Lugu Farmers' Association Dong Ding Oolong Tea Competition judging team.
We recognize this as a significant event in that it is perhaps the most effective systematized effort to preserve this traditional product of regional origin.
Not only is this the world's largest Oolong Tea competition, it is a pioneer and precedent for 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.
Director of the Lugu Farmer's Association, and our tea mentor Tony Lin, has developed this competition over the last 30 years. Last year he decided it was important to educate the new generation of tea judges on traditional tea making.
So he created this workshop where 4 or 5 elder tea masters are invited to demonstrate their methods to the newer generations. The younger tea judges are are organized into teams of about 12 apprentices each.
Tony believes that only by experience of what is involved in making Traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea, will this next generation be able to recognize the best characteristics of this local specialty, and thereby preserve and protect the quality standards on which this competition is based.
Above is a photo of Tony Lin (far right) with the four elder tea masters who demonstrated at this year's event. We felt honored 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 craft seasonally.
In a word, they make the best tea we've found over over the past 25 years!
The above is Eco-Cha co-founder and sourcing director, Andy Kincart, standing proudly next to his all-time favorite tea master Mr. Liu, and his Taiwanese mentor Tony Lin.
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We recently visited Mr. Liu when we hosted a visitor from Italy who was keen on experiencing the local tea culture. Our guest was truly elated to be served tea by a true artisan of the trade. Mr. Liu served us three different teas that were all locally harvested this past spring. They varied only in their degree oxidation and roasting. And the one that was sufficiently oxidized, but only lightly roasted, immediately impressed us.