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Flavor: Savory, herbal aroma. Floral, mildly sweet. Refreshing flowery finish.
Garden: This artisan consistently achieves high ratings in virtually every oolong tea competition in Taiwan, including the largest oolong tea competition in the world. He works with a co-op of farmers that share knowledge and regularly have their teas tested by Taiwanese food safety lab SGS. A prime example of sustainable methods combined with expertise.
Harvest: Machine cut in medium batches. Spring 2016. Nantou, Taiwan.
Upon first brew, there are distinct aromatic notes of fresh herbs with subtle hints of flowery sweetness. This Tsui Yu has a dark green leafy vegetal character base with herbaceous overtones and a refreshing floral, dry finish. This selection makes an especially flavorful cold brew tea.
Tsui Yu Jade Oolong is a hybrid that was registered at the Taiwan Tea Research Extension Station (TRES) in 1981. It was designed for making oolong teas, and is capable of variable oxidation levels. It is known for its flowery aroma which takes on a fruity character if the leaves are roasted post production.
This batch of tea leaves comes from the most active tea maker we know. This man enters virtually every oolong tea competition in Taiwan, including the largest and most prestigious oolong tea competition in the world. He consistently achieves high ratings in all of these competitions. He won first prize in the Nantou County Tea Trade Association Dong Ding Tsui Yu Oolong tea competition winter 2013. The competition tea was processed to make a semi-oxidized roasted tea in the style of Dong Ding Oolong Tea. Our selection is slightly less oxidized and unroasted to maintain its original fresh, fragrant character. He has also repeatedly won first prize in the Nantou County Tea Trade Association Jin Xuan Dong Ding Oolong tea competition. This is a region that is comprised of some the best tea makers in the world. He is a highly motivated and progressive individual - making him an exemplary figure in his field.
In the last few years, he has formed a cooperative with neighboring farmer friends who share his standards of cultivation and processing. This is in order to collectively produce a significant enough volume to be able to compete with the larger scale production of tea in the area, while maintaining the quality control standards of small, privately-run farms.
Wholesale dealers of tea typically buy tea from large scale producers in quantities of thousands of pounds per harvest. This co-op of farmers employs farming methods that use occasional or zero chemical fertilizers, zero chemical weed killers, and only a minimal amount of water soluble pesticides are administered at the beginning of the growing season. The tea leaves are randomly tested for trace chemical residue, and this team of farmers share their expertise in continually developing methods for cultivating quality tea.
This batch of tea was grown at 400m elevation, which means the farms are on relatively flat ground, allowing for machine-cut harvesting. The machine that is used for harvesting is a hand-held type of hedge clipper designed to be wielded by two people, one on each side of the row of tea bushes. A vacuum attachment collects the harvested leaves in a cloth bag. While machine harvesting results in a portion of the leaves and stems being cut, this expedient method allows for timely harvest in the late morning hours that ensures the outdoor oxidation step in processing the leaves is done at noon - the ideal time for the initial wilting phase of the leaves. While hand picking maintains the integrity of the tea leaves, it is far more time consuming and must be started in the early morning hours, but not until the dew on the leaves has evaporated. Machine harvesting provides more control over these daily conditions simply because it is faster.
The amount of leaves harvested on a typical day from this farm makes about 250 kilograms of dried tea leaves. This is almost double that of a small-batch harvest and about half the amount that large farms harvest, so we use the term "medium batch" in reference to this quantity.