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June, 12, 2017

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Hong Shui Oolong Tasting Notes

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Hong Shui Oolong Tasting Notes

The rich reddish-amber hue of the brewed tea is also a clear indication of substantially oxidized tea leaves, especially since they were left unroasted. Hong Shui Oolong tea leaves are more heavily oxidized than its close cousin, Dong Ding Oolong. Dong Ding Oolong reaches a comparative level of rich, robust character due to the additional roasting process. Hong Shui is a more pure character in that the flavor profile is derived directly from the constituents in the leaves, whereas roasting is a type of "flavor enhancer", just as it is in the culinary world.

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June, 1, 2017

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Traditional Hong Shui Oolong Tea

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Traditional Hong Shui Oolong Tea

We met Mr. Chen when we spent the night in our Lishan High Mountain Tea source's factory last spring. We learned that he specializes in making Hong Shui Oolong in Fenghuang Village, where he was born and raised. It is only with this year's spring harvest that we got the opportunity to procure a small amount of this tea type to share with our Eco-Cha Tea Club members.

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May, 8, 2017

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Longan Charcoal Roasted Wuyi Oolong Tasting Notes

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Longan Charcoal Roasted Wuyi Oolong Tasting Notes

The roasted quality is prominent in the initial aroma coming off the leaves after their first steeping. This smoky, cured character is also evident on the palate, but integrated with a complex dried fruit, caramelized quality that gives it a broad flavor profile. It has a tangy/sweet, bold finish that is particularly satisfying.

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May, 4, 2017

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Longan Charcoal Roasted Wuyi Oolong Tea

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Longan Charcoal Roasted Wuyi Oolong Tea

The first batch of tea that we shared from this plot of Wuyi tea plants was left unroasted, in the fashion of Taiwan's High Mountain Tea. This one is on the other end of the roasting scale, having undergone 6 roasting sessions in total. After being roasted in conventional modern ovens twice, this batch was handed over to a professional charcoal tea roaster. This is all the guy does: roast tea in woven bamboo baskets, using charcoal made from the Longan fruit tree. He does not let anyone into his workshop, and keeps his traditional secrets to himself, which he has been developing for several decades. He also roasted this year's January batch that we shared with our Eco-Cha Tea Club members, which our members have raved about.

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May, 1, 2017

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How to Choose a Good Looking Oolong Tea

How to Choose a Good Looking Oolong Tea

Judge Oolong from Looking at it

It turns out that you can tell a lot by "judging" Oolong tea by it's appearance. Here's a quick list of things to look for when you are looking at dry Oolong tea leaves. 

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April, 14, 2017

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Roots Revisited For Early Spring Tea Harvest

Roots Revisited For Early Spring Tea Harvest

Mr. and Mrs. Chen were lucky to have chosen April 10 for the harvest of the small plot of Jin Xuan they manage for their childhood friend and tea partner. It was sunny and breezy, perfect weather for harvesting spring tea!

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April, 7, 2017

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Award Winning Alishan High Mountain Oolong Tea Tasting Notes

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Award Winning Alishan High Mountain Oolong Tea Tasting Notes

This combination of oxidized leaves with slight roasting offers a balanced flavor profile that turns the fresh green quality into a sweeter, softer character that is complex and substantial. Instead of the herbal aroma of an unroasted High Mountain Oolong, there is a balanced, floral/vegetal quality with fresh pastry in the finish. Overall, it is soothing and satisfying in our experience.

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April, 3, 2017

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Award Winning Alishan High Mountain Oolong Tea

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Award Winning Alishan High Mountain Oolong Tea

 

Our friend, who is the most successful player we know in Taiwan's tea competitions, sourced 4 batches of tea from this village to be prepared for the winter 2016 competition in the Meishan Farmers' Association. He achieved awards in the Top Place ( top 2%), Gold Medal (top 10%), and Silver Medal (top 16%) categories. This month's Eco-Cha Tea Club batch is a combination of the remainder of tea leaves that achieved Gold and Silver Medal awards in a competition of more than 1000 entries.

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March, 21, 2017

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Organic Heavy Roast Oolong: An Eclectic Tea Making Process

Organic Heavy Roast Oolong: An Eclectic Tea Making Process

This batch of tea was harvested in 2012 and only reached completion of its curing process in 2016. This artisan has taken tea making to another level. These processing and curing methods are unique in that they are an integration of traditional and modern tea making methods that produce a character of tea reminiscent of Muzha Tieguanyin from Northern Taiwan. It is not comparable however, given that the tea types used and the processing methods are quite different. It is simply the character and flavor notes that are experienced in brewing a pot of these tea leaves that bring a traditional Taiwanese Tieguanyin Oolong to mind.

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March, 7, 2017

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Aged Harbor Tea Tasting Notes

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Aged Harbor Tea Tasting Notes

The image above portrays the visual character of the tea being shared in this month's Eco-Cha Tea Club. It's a rich, hearty brew that is both smooth and complex with a heady finish that is specific to an aged Oolong. The bubbles created in the tea pitcher when pouring off the brewed tea indicate that the essential aromatic oils and other key constituents have been preserved and concentrated in the aging process. We are excited to share this rare batch of Wuyi Oolong that was cultivated, cured, and aged at the southern tip of Taiwan in the tiny village of Gangkou, Pingtung County.

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March, 2, 2017

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Aged Harbor Tea

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Aged Harbor Tea

This month's batch of Aged Harbor Tea that is being shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club comes from the most unique source of tea we've discovered to date. Located along the coast near the southernmost tip of the island, it stands alone both in its story and character. In the image above, Mr. and Mrs. Zhu proudly present their inherited family tradition that they have innovated upon to make a unique type of tea.

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February, 22, 2017

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Eco-Cha Represents Taiwan's Artisan Tea Culture

Eco-Cha Represents Taiwan's Artisan Tea Culture

Dana Ter, freelance writer and staff reporter for the Features section of the Taipei Times, recently approached Eco-Cha to be a subject of a piece she wrote on Taiwan's artisanal tea culture. We happily cooperated, and responded to her request to visit tea farms in the Taipei area by taking her to meet two tea farmers whom we've befriended in recent years. It turned out to be just what Dana was looking for — tea producers who represent the boutique artisan tea culture in Taiwan.

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February, 12, 2017

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Video of Modern Oolong Tea Making

Video of Modern Oolong Tea Making

We are excited to share this video we recently made that shows all the steps involved in making Oolong tea. We were inspired to make this simple documentary film after we contributed an extensive, detailed article to WORLD OF TEA on the machines that have been invented in Taiwan for modern Oolong Tea processing.

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February, 11, 2017

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Award Winning Traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea Tasting Notes

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Award Winning Traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea Tasting Notes

As a singular tea type, we just keep coming back to a well made Dong Ding Oolong for one of the most reliably satisfying character and flavor profiles. And this batch was selected and roasted by a friend who happens to be the most respected professional competition player and master roaster we know. Due to his continued success in virtually all of Taiwan's competitions within the roasted Oolong category, he has been invited to conduct seminars for tea makers from all over Taiwan. He is a leading professional in the art of roasting tea. And we are lucky enough to be offered his award winning batches to share with our Tea Club members.

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February, 7, 2017

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Award Winning Traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Award Winning Traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea

Beyond the fact that the standard of quality in this competition represents our personal favorite — Traditional Dong Ding Oolong, we determined this batch especially worthy of sharing based on its source. The same batch of freshly made tea was divided into several smaller batches and roasted separately. The subtle differences in the outcome of each separately roasted entry batch were tasted by leading professionals and ranked at 4th place, top 2%, and top 8%. We see this as testimony to the decisive finesse involved in the roasting process. On a given day, each roasted batch from the same harvest will have a different outcome. And it is  the skill of the master roaster to determine how to navigate each individual roasting process.

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January, 13, 2017

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Rebirth Of An Organic Tea Farm

Rebirth Of An Organic Tea Farm

This farm is now moving into its third year of a newly planted crop, and is just beginning to yield a harvest. Rocky has a lot of work ahead of him, but we are all confident that this new generation with a new scientific approach to farming as well as a small but growing network of farmers to share experience with, that he will succeed in his efforts. I will be sure to keep in closer contact with Rocky and hopefully Eco-Cha will have a chance to share the tea from this farm that was brought back to life!

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January, 7, 2017

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Longan Charcoal Roasted Oolong Tea Tasting Notes

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Longan Charcoal Roasted Oolong Tea Tasting Notes

The leaves shown above were harvested in the Shanlinxi High Mountain Tea growing region last spring, and have undergone 8 separate roasting sessions. The first three preliminary roastings were done in a conventional oven in preparation for the traditional method of using charcoal made from the Longan fruitwood. 

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January, 5, 2017

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Longan Charcoal Roasted Oolong Tea

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Longan Charcoal Roasted Oolong Tea

These leaves have undergone 8 separate roastings over a few months, for a total roasting time of about 50 hours. Our friend first prepared his tea leaves for charcoal roasting by roasting them 3 times in a conventional oven roaster at low temperature of 80 -100°C. This provides a "base" roasting level that the charcoal roasting can proceed from more efficiently. The leaves were then handed over to a specialized charcoal roaster who charges a standard fee, regardless of how many roastings are needed to achieve the desired results. In this case, it was 5 roasting sessions of incrementally increasing heat, starting from about 90° and finishing at 120°.

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December, 28, 2016

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Lugu's Youth Brew Tea For International 4H Event

Lugu's Youth Brew Tea For International 4H Event

Lugu's 4H Project recently hosted around 70 international 4H members for their 2nd Annual Asia Network Board Meeting. This year the Lugu Elementary School, in cooperation with National Taiwan University Tea Research Center prepared a select group of students to brew tea for the guests. These students have been practicing their tea brewing etiquette along with English poetry recitals and conversation since last spring. 

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December, 17, 2016

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Year Two Of The Eco-Cha Tea Club

Year Two Of The Eco-Cha Tea Club

We invite you to join us as we continue on our endless journey to seek out and discover singular seasonal batches of tea that are one-of-a-kind specialties, and not available anywhere else. We will continue to tell the story of each batch of tea we select, sharing photos that offer windows into this rich world of Taiwanese teas and the culture in which is flourishes. We tell you all about the tea, where it comes from, how it's made, and share a sip-along-with-us tasting video with each unique batch. Come along for the adventure with the Eco-Cha Tea Club as we make another cycle around the sun, drawing us to remote mountainous regions around the beautiful island of Taiwan!

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December, 15, 2016

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3 Teas That Blew Our Mind from the Eco-Cha Tea Club

3 Teas That Blew Our Mind from the Eco-Cha Tea Club
3 Teas that Blew Our Mind from the Eco-Cha Tea Club This past year has been an exciting adventure for our Eco-Cha Tea Club members and there have been a lot of great rare teas and fun extras. Here are a few that really stand out for us. View full article →
December, 6, 2016

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Honey Fragrance Oolong Tasting Notes

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Honey Fragrance Oolong Tasting Notes

The tea leaves shown above are from a rare batch of winter tea that was affected by the Green Leafhopper. This is the insect that is responsible for the existence of the renowned Oriental Beauty Tea, and the more recent innovation of Concubine Oolong Tea. The presence of this insect indicates that pesticides were not administered during the growing season to deter it. And the effect it has on the bug-bitten leaves is a distinct honey like character prominently in the aroma, but also in the flavor.

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December, 2, 2016

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Honey Fragrance Oolong Tea

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Honey Fragrance Oolong Tea

Bug-bitten leaves are tricky to process, and have relatively unpredictable results, so the artisan must rely on experience and understanding of the unique condition of the leaves when harvested to achieve the desired result. Our friend decided that heavier oxidation of the leaves would produce a more balanced composition, which proved correct. He then decided not to risk losing the elusive "honey fragrance" by roasting the leaves to the degree of a more standard Concubine or Dong Ding Oolong. The final result is a batch of tea that is similar to a Hongshui Oolong, but with a distinct "honey fragrance" character that puts it in a flavor profile of its own.

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November, 8, 2016

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Tieguanyin Oolong Tea Tasting Notes

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Tieguanyin Oolong Tea Tasting Notes

In many cases, traditional styles of tea making involve much more "curing" of the tea leaves that has the dual purpose of bringing out a strong, distinct character, and stabilizes the tea leaves to maintain its flavor — giving it a prolonged shelf life as well as a discernible profile. In this sense, Tieguanyin Oolong is a prime example of a traditional product of regional origin. Initially brought from mainland China, this tradition took root in Northern Taiwan in the 1800's, and it has survived to this day.

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November, 5, 2016

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Tieguanyin Oolong Tea

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Tieguanyin Oolong Tea

This farm is the only place we've seen the baskets shown above still being used in Taiwan for harvesting tea by hand. They are now typically displayed as a memoir of generations past. This in itself is a symbol for the tradition that this farmer has made his vocation to preserve. At the young age of 20, he inherited his family farm in the historical tea producing area of Muzha in Taipei County, and has dedicated the last 30 years of his life to keeping the tradition alive by making the type of tea for which this place name has been renowned for well over 100 years - Tieguanyin Oolong.

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