The appearance of the brewed tea has gained substance, and become a deeper yellowish gold in comparison to the thinner, lighter unroasted brew. This coincides with the flavor profile in that the roasted version is heartier, with a more balanced character. The aroma coming off the leaves from the initial rinse is reminiscent of buttered carrots or yams. After the first brew, the aroma is more like grilled corn, cooling off into freshly baked scones. The second pour brought on stronger roasted vegetable notes, but again cooling off into a pastry aroma.View full article →
Red Oolong offers a smooth, balanced, mildly sweet, rich but not quite bold flavor profile, with elements of fruit compote, pumpkin pie, and a hint of dried flowers. This ultra-friendly character, combined with the fact that almost all Red Oolong is cultivated naturally on the southeast coast of Taiwan, facing the wide open Pacific, where the sky reminds a North American of the northern west coast, is no wonder why it is rapidly gaining popularity on the international market. Once again, Taiwan leads the way in Oolong Tea innovation!
This month's batch of tea being shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club was made by Mr. Su — an 80 year-old artisan of traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea. He planted a plot of the Tie Guan Yin strain in his backyard several years ago, and this is the second time we've sourced this tea type from him. Mr. Su is our favorite representative of traditionally made tea in Taiwan, and it brings us a special kind of joy to be able to share his tea with our tea club members.
This batch has a particularly sweet character, with slightly tangy, fruity notes and a pleasantly clean lingering aftertaste. It has just enough of that cured, almost fermented character that makes it reminiscent of a traditionally made Tie Guan Yin Oolong. But given that it was only roasted once, it maintains a mild flavor profile similar to a Hong Shui Oolong.View full article →
Above we see a local tea picker turning in freshly picked leaves to be weighed and recorded for commission. These new-growth, tender leaves were harvested on a beautiful sunny day at about 1500 meters elevation in the Shan Lin Xi tea growing region in southern Nantou County, central Taiwan.View full article →
The most commonly referred to trait in Leafhopper Tea is a honey-essence note in the fragrance as well as the flavor profile. This hint of honey varies greatly from batch to batch of "bug bitten tea", as it is also referred to locally. But the most general characteristic of this tea type is its bold complexity of aroma and flavor. It simply has a substance that clearly distinguishes it from a standard High Mountain Tea.View full article →
Our expressed intention in sharing this batch of tea is to offer Eco-Cha Tea Club members a chance to experience the original unroasted flavor profile of a tea type that, in the local Taiwanese dialect, is simply called "Leafhopper Tea".View full article →
This month's of tea being shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a a first in our experience of sourcing tea in Taiwan for well over 20 years. In recent years, Taiwan's High Mountain Tea Farmers have dedicated a short growing season following their spring harvest to making Black Tea. The original Qing Xin strain along with modern hybrids are cultivated for the production of High Mountain Tea. These strains are generally distinguished from Assam and Taiwan's indigenous wild strain of tea by simple using the term "Small Leaf Type". So Black Tea made with leaves with anything other than Assam or Wild Tea is referred to as Small Leaf Black Tea. This is the first time we've sourced a batch of High Mountain Small Leaf Black Tea that was made with the newer hybrid strain called Ying Xiang #20.View full article →
Batch #23 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club was harvested in early summer from a plot of Ying Xiang #20 on Big Wheel Mountain in the Shan Lin Xi tea growing region of Central Taiwan. The leaves were picked when they were young, just a bit more than half as mature as leaves that are picked to make Oolong Tea. It is becoming increasingly popular to allow the leaves that were too young to pick at spring harvest to grow for another month or so, and then harvest them at about half-mature size to be made into Black Tea. The younger leaves are able to be oxidized more optimally, to produce an especially aromatic, mildly sweet character of Black Tea that is easily distinguished from both Assam and Chinese Black Tea types.View full article →
The leaves were delicately roasted to meet the competition quality standard, offering a mild, smooth, well-balanced, buttery-sweet brew. The light roasting can be observed in the color of the brewed tea above, which is more golden than an unroasted High Mountain Tea. We have very much appreciated this standard set by the Meishan Farmers' Association Competitions, as it offers a flavor profile that is between a fresh, green, floral unroasted High Mountain Tea and a rich, bold, complex traditionally made tea, such as Dong Ding Oolong.View full article →
The quality standard for the Meishan competition calls for a lightly roasted High Mountain Tea character. This is a relatively new flavor profile that stands between an unroasted High Mountain Tea and the more traditional, medium roasted Oolongs. Taiwan's national tea judges set this standard to promote a different style of tea making that has its own specialty quality. The art of roasting is added to the value of expert farming methods and processing of High Mountain Tea. In order to achieve optimal roasting results, the leaves need to be sufficiently oxidized, but not too much — perhaps 5-10% more than a standard unroasted "green" High Mountain Tea.View full article →
Eco-Cha is featured on a Taiwan TV News station's lifestyle program called "Building Dreams For A New Taiwan" (築夢新台灣) broadcasting tonight. When the station called to notify us of the broadcast, I was prompted to go back take a look at the behind-the-scenes snapshots I took during the shoot. I discovered that they captured a personal story that I'm inspired to share.View full article →
Pictured above is the Little Green Leafhopper (小綠葉蟬), the tiny insect that is responsible for the creation of Concubine Oolong Tea. It's a bit of Nature's magic at work. Only about 0.5 cm in length, this "mini grasshopper" loves to feed on the sap of tender tea leaf buds. Bug-bitten Tea (as it is called in Taiwanese), has a distinct honey-like note in its flavor profile. Concubine Tea is made from bug-bitten tea leaves that are processed in a similar fashion to traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea. The name was chosen in reference to the original, or at least the most renowned form of bug-bitten tea — Oriental Beauty.View full article →
Eco-Cha looks forward to further collaborations with these pioneering artists of fine wood-fired tea wares, and hopefully we will even get to make an appearance at the PDX Tea Fest in years to come. To show our enthusiasm, we will share the coupon code here as well — it offers a single purchase 20% discount off anything in our store! Let's all work together in cultivating a global tea culture!View full article →
The roasted character of this tea combined with the "bug-bitten effect" is what makes it unique. It's difficult to describe the flavor profile accurately. Concubine Tea is also known to vary subtly from brew to brew — which makes logical sense. If you think about it, it's inevitable that each leaf will be affected differently by the Leafhopper. So it really depends on which leaves end up in your teapot on a given day! So take the time to notice the variations from brew to brew. Get familiar with this batch, and learn how to brew it to to the best of your liking. Concubine Tea is by definition unique, from batch to batch and even from brew to brew. Enjoy the journey!View full article →
This batch of award winning tea is a cultural diplomat of central Taiwan's tea making tradition. It is a hearty, complex brew with a broad profile of flavor that is bound to satisfy both the sensitive palate as well as the demand for a robust, full-flavored brew. It is a middle ground in the spectrum of tea types, ranging from Green Tea to Black Tea, with a wide variety of Oolongs in-between. It has a definite "cured" character, while maintaining a substantial fruity, clean quality offering an interesting brew that remains interesting for, well — years-on-end! In a word, it's our favorite style of tea.View full article →