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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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September, 1, 2016

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Organic Wuyi Hongshui Oolong

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Organic Wuyi Hongshui Oolong

We were very excited to share the first substantial crop from this newly planted organic plot of heirloom Wuyi Oolong tea in our June batch. That first harvest from this plot was processed as a Black Tea. The farmer saw our appreciation for that unique batch of tea, and was inspired to respond to our enthusiasm and encouragement by processing the second harvest as a traditional Hongshui Oolong — a tea type that had virtually disappeared in the wake of large scale promotion of High Mountain Tea, but has recently gained popularity among local tea connoisseurs. This is living proof that local tea growers in this region are reclaiming their heritage for producing specialty teas. Furthermore, this farmer is an anomaly in his farming practice. Not only is he pioneering farming methods that we have never seen or heard of in Taiwan before. He is also producing some unique and superior batches of tea. 

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August, 30, 2016

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Preliminary Tea Judge Training In Taiwan

Preliminary Tea Judge Training In Taiwan

Thirty local residents within a given township are accepted into this course offered annually, where they attend four days of classes in preparation for the national exam at the Research Station's HQ in Yangmei, Taoyuan County. Passing this exam is prerequisite to attending advanced training courses in tea judging that are regional specific and focus on the competition standard for the tea type produced in that area. For example, to qualify as a preliminary tea judge for the Lugu Farmers' Association, graduates from this basic training must pass the much more rigorous course designed and conducted by the Lugu Farmers' Association

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August, 24, 2016

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Taiwan's Living Art Of Tea Club (生活茶會)

Taiwan's Living Art Of Tea Club (生活茶會)

Since 1992, the Lugu Farmers' Association has sponsored a course in Tea Art. The purpose of this educational program has been to provide local residents with an aesthetic understanding of tea art and culture. It is meant to provide a foundation that participants can innovate upon and develop their own embodiment of Tea Art. After attending both practical and theoretical classes, participants take a written exam and do a tea brewing demonstration of their own design in order to receive the Tea Art Award.

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August, 18, 2016

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Eco-Cha Oolong Tea Class

Eco-Cha Oolong Tea Class

Tea Tasting at Harbourfront

We were honored to have our friend and skilled tea artisan, Young, in attendance for the inaugural Eco-Cha Tea Class. He played the role of attendee until we (surprise) announced that he grew the tea we were all drinking.

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August, 9, 2016

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Geographical Indicators For Taiwanese Tea

Geographical Indicators For Taiwanese Tea

A meaningful article was recently published on the World of Tea site about the challenges of verifying the authenticity of tea via the use of geographical indicators. The author made a valid point about how the methods of employing geographical indicators are not foolproof, particularly when tea is exported outside of its local industry and market. His article prompted us to research geographical indicators here in Taiwan, which we have observed the development of over the last decade or so, but have not been directly involved in the use of them.

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August, 4, 2016

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Award Winning Roasted Jin Xuan Oolong Tasting Notes

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Award Winning Roasted Jin Xuan Oolong Tasting Notes

With the first brew poured off, the freshly brewed leaves carry a strong roasted character with rich, hearty, fireside notes. After the second brew the aroma of the brewed leaves turns a bit fruity, with warming spice sweetness reminiscent of pumpkin pie. The first brew has a roasted flavor upfront followed by a sweetness like grilled fresh corn. The second brew brings out a more balanced, rich, complex character and smooth texture – a much more integrated flavor profile. 

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August, 2, 2016

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The Eco-Cha Tea Club: Award Winning Roasted Jin Xuan Oolong

The Eco-Cha Tea Club:  Award Winning Roasted Jin Xuan Oolong

This batch of tea was sourced from our friend and tea mentor who is one of the most successful competition players in the industry. He participates in all of the significant competitions in central Taiwan and consistently attains the highest awards. Eco-Cha Tea Club's Batch #1 was also from this source. And this spring he achieved 5th place out of 6,441 entries of that same competition that Batch #1 was entered in last year. This month's batch was entered into the Nantou County Tea Trade Association's Dong Ding Jin Xuan Tea Competition, and received the Gold Medal Award.

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