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April, 3, 2018

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Gold Medal Award Dong Ding Jin Xuan Oolong Tea Tasting Notes

With the first brew poured off, the leaves offer a distinctly roasted character with nutty, fruitwood fireside notes. After the second brew the aroma of the brewed leaves turns a bit fruity, with a warming spice sweetness reminiscent of pumpkin pie. The tea has a roasted flavor upfront, followed by a sweetness like grilled fresh corn. Then it moves into a more balanced, rich, complex character and smooth texture. The second visual assessment of competition teas is the purity of color and transparency of the brewed tea. It should be clear and luminescent. View full article →
April, 2, 2018

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Gold Medal Award Dong Ding Jin Xuan Oolong Tea

This month's batch of tea being shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club was entered into the winter 2017 Nantou County Tea Trade Association's Dong Ding Jin Xuan Tea Competition, and received the Gold Medal Award. This award ranks within the top 5% of all entries. This competition has been in existence for almost 25 years. It began with the development of Jin Xuan tea production in the early 1990's. View full article →
March, 21, 2018

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Cold Brew Tea Bottle

Contrary to what the recent weather has indicated, spring IS on its way! And while all those pots of freshly brewed hot tea provided warmth and well-being through the winter, it's time to start getting out and about. But there's no need to leave your beloved tea at home. From now until March 31st, order $50 or more of tea and you'll get this free cold brew tea bottle (retail value $15.99) to take your tea along with you! Make your order $75 or more, you'll also get free global shipping! View full article →
March, 13, 2018

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Roasted Leafhopper High Mountain Tea Tasting Notes

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.

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March, 8, 2018

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Roasted Leafhopper High Mountain Oolong Tea

Last November, Eco-Cha Tea Club members got to experience the original unroasted flavor profile of a Leafhopper High Mountain Oolong, also referred to simply as "bug bitten tea", or "yeh nah day" in the Taiwanese dialect. When we sourced that batch of tea, we conceived of a "secret" plan to first share half of this batch of tea unroasted, then roast the other half in order to give our members the opportunity to taste the difference between the unroasted and roasted versions of the very same batch of  Leafhopper High Mountain Oolong Tea. View full article →
February, 23, 2018

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Red Oolong Tea: Gem Of Taiwan's Southeast Coast

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!


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February, 6, 2018

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Premier Crop Organic Jin Xuan Oolong Tasting Notes

These leaves were harvested from young tea trees that were ready for their very first trimming, prompting them to sprout more branches before growing taller. This premier harvest of organically cultivated Jin Xuan Tea plants is what we have chosen to share on the occasion of Chinese New Year with the Eco-Cha Tea Club. The character of this tea conveys the vibrant, nutrient-rich, new growth of young tea trees growing on an organic farm. View full article →
February, 2, 2018

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Premier Crop Organic Jin Xuan Oolong

Mr. Xie made a life-changing decision 20 years ago by committing to transition the tradition he inherited from his father and grandfather before him to organic tea farming. He did this solely by his own conviction that it was the right thing to do. He came close to failing at first, but his farm survived, and through many years of pioneering experimentation, he succeeded. He is now a leading representative of organic tea farming in his community, and has formed a co-op of neighboring farms to develop his business. In recent years, a younger generation of local farmers are following his example. This is the latest chapter on the local scene that we find truly exciting. View full article →
January, 12, 2018

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Dong Ding Tie Guan Yin Tasting Notes

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.

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January, 8, 2018

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Dong Ding Tie Guan Yin Oolong

Our monthly missions to find exceptional singular batches of tea to share with the Eco-Cha Tea Club have led us full circle back to where we were exactly 2 years ago — in the workshop of our favorite elder artisan Mr. Su. On the day we stopped by and snapped the photo above, we found him tasting his batches of tea one last time before entering them into the world's largest Oolong Tea competition, where he has won Champion Prize. But we were visiting him with another type of tea in mind — the tea we sourced from him and shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club in January 2016, which we named Dong Ding Tie Guan Yin Oolong. View full article →
December, 13, 2017

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Eco-Cha Behind The Scenes Of The World's Largest Oolong Tea Competition

Shown above are bamboo basket roasters in full effect, emitting exquisite aromas of tea leaves in their last hours of roasting in preparation for the Lugu Farmers' Association's Dong Ding Oolong Tea Competition — winter 2017. These traditional style roasters are often used for the final roasting, following repeated roastings in larger convection ovens. View full article →
December, 8, 2017

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: High Mountain Hong Shui Oolong Tea Tasting Notes

This month's batch of tea being shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a heavily oxidized, unroasted Oolong Tea harvested from the lower lying slopes of the Shanlinxi region. The character of this tea is an intriguing combination of Oolong and Black Tea. The aromatic qualities offer a rich sweet profile like fruit compote. On the palate, it has a broad range of flavor, with a base of deep musky notes into a complex fruity body with subtle hints of citrus in the finish. The aftertaste lingers with a dry headiness comprised of interesting sweet/tart and astringent tones. View full article →
December, 4, 2017

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: High Mountain Hong Shui Oolong Tea

This month's batch of tea being shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club is truly a unique find that came to us only via our dear friend and teacher. We met him about 20 years ago, and only in recent years have begun to call upon his expertise and deep roots in the local industry. After decades of managing his family farm and apprenticing under local masters, he has simplified his position by renting out his factory to tea farmers and working with them to support their farming methods and tea making styles. View full article →
November, 8, 2017

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Shan Lin Xi Winter Harvest Pictorial

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.

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November, 8, 2017

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Leafhopper High Mountain Tea Tasting Notes

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.

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November, 3, 2017

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Leafhopper High Mountain Oolong Tea

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".

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October, 6, 2017

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Ying Xiang High Mountain Black Tea Tasting Notes

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.

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October, 3, 2017

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Ying Xiang High Mountain Black Tea

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.

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September, 4, 2017

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Gold Medal Award Jin Xuan High Mountain Tea Tasting Notes

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.

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September, 1, 2017

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Gold Medal Award Jin Xuan High Mountain Tea

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.

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August, 11, 2017

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Behind The Scenes Of A Taiwan TV News Show

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.

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August, 7, 2017

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Concubine Oolong Tasting Notes

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.

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August, 4, 2017

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Eco-Cha Shares Tea At The First Annual Portland Tea Festival

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! 

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August, 3, 2017

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Concubine Oolong Tea

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!

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July, 6, 2017

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

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. 

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