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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

So 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 various traditional and modern tea making methods to produce a character of tea that is reminiscent of Muzha Tieguanyin from Northern Taiwan. It is not comparable however, given that the tea types used and even 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 in character, with a heady finish that is specific to an aged Oolong. The bubbles created in the tea pitcher when pouring off the brewed tea also 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, in 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

The 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. And this year this 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 practiced 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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Launching Into Round Two Of The Eco-Cha Tea Club

Launching Into Round Two Of The Eco-Cha Tea Club

So 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, 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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October, 18, 2016

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Taiwan's Nantou Global Tea Expo 2016

Taiwan's Nantou Global Tea Expo 2016

Nantou County's seventh annual Global Tea Expo happened last week, with TV news reporting that the event drew around 400,000 visitors over its 9 days of various performances, presentations, demonstrations, and contests to complement the 300 vendors who set up shop to sell their produce. It is by far the largest and most representative event in Taiwan promoting its specialty tea and thriving tea culture.

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October, 8, 2016

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Heirloom Small Leaf Type Black Tea Tasting Notes

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Heirloom Small Leaf Type Black Tea Tasting Notes

 

We already knew that this is our favorite source of traditionally made Dong Ding Oolong Tea, but in the last couple years, we've come to realize that their Black Tea is also something very special. In a word, it's the balance of flavor and character that we find unique among Small Leaf Type Black Tea makers. This young tea artisan has learned how to process his family resource of heirloom tea in a way that makes an exceptional Black Tea. There is both a purity and substance of character that sets it apart from the majority of Black Teas, delivering a rich, full flavor that is both satisfying and soothing. The aroma is something like fresh baked plum cobbler, yet the flavor is both clean and richly balanced, with a dry lingering aftertaste that has a finish like a good dessert wine or even champagne.

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October, 6, 2016

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Heirloom Small Leaf Type Black Tea

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Heirloom Small Leaf Type Black Tea

There has been an increasing trend in central Taiwan to use summer harvests of Small Leaf Type tea to make Black Tea. These seasonal batches of Small Leaf Type Black Tea have quickly gained popularity on the domestic market. We now feel inspired to represent this trend by introducing the most rare and quality produce of this type. In the last 12 months of seeking out and deciding upon our next monthly Eco-Cha Tea Club batch, we have chosen 3 very distinct batches of Black Tea, all made from Small Leaf Type strains.

We really would love to hear about your experiences of these batches of Black Tea that we've shared in the last year. Go ahead and post your comments on this batch along with your recollections of the previous batches here!

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October, 4, 2016

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Eco-Cha's Video Documentary Of A Traditional Tea Making Workshop

Eco-Cha's Video Documentary Of A Traditional Tea Making Workshop

As we promised in our recent blog post, here is our video of a very significant event that we were very excited to have the chance to document. Last year, when our mentor told us about the first workshop that he had just held (and neglected to tell us!), we strongly encouraged him to make this an annual event. This year, we are happy to say that our badgering paid off! Now, we are able to share a short film of a local workshop that we believe has global significance in preserving the quality and value of traditionally made Dong Ding Oolong Tea. So, here is a window into our world of tea that we are dedicated to preserving by sharing it with tea lovers around the world!

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September, 29, 2016

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A Fine Fall Harvest Of Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Tea

A Fine Fall Harvest Of Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Tea

We've been procuring High Mountain Tea from this region for over 20 years. And it has only been in recent years that we've discovered that quality batches of tea are produced from both summer and fall harvests — and at a significantly lower price than spring and winter harvests. While readily admitting that we, along with the majority of avid tea lovers in Taiwan, were perhaps snobbishly prejudiced toward spring and winter harvests  — wanting only what has been promoted to be the best choices — we also happily acknowledge that there has been been progress in the production of High Mountain Tea.

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September, 23, 2016

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Inaugural Dong Ding Tea Making Workshop In Phoenix Village

Inaugural Dong Ding Tea Making Workshop In Phoenix Village

The Yonglong Fenghuang Community recently conducted its inaugural local workshop emulating the Lugu Farmers' Association's model of a Traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea making practicum. This community is the historical heart of Dong Ding Oolong Country. It is where this specialty tea originated and continues to represent the most traditional methods of Dong Ding Oolong tea making.

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September, 8, 2016

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Traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea Making Workshop In Taiwan

Traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea Making Workshop In Taiwan

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.

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September, 6, 2016

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Organic Wuyi Hongshui Oolong Tasting Notes

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Organic Wuyi Hongshui Oolong Tasting Notes

 

This tea has a very traditionally cured flavor profile. It's soothing yet refreshingly satisfying at the same time. Something about the higher level of oxidation and the very lightly roasted aspect gives it a home-made dessert character, like peach cobbler. It has a tangy sweetness with an underlying hearty, rich aspect that makes it a very substantial, yet not overbearing brew. More and more, we find ourselves appreciating this traditional style of heavier oxidation and lighter roast level that offers a broader flavor profile and a complexity that continues to be intriguing and satisfying brew after brew.

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