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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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June, 30, 2017

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

Songbolin is a historical tea producing region that is home to some of the most skilled Oolong Tea artisans in Taiwan. This batch of tea was procured by a top competition player, and cured with a precision that attained First Prize, Top Prize (top 2%), and Second Category Prize Awards in a local competition. Three entries from the same harvest, roasted in 3 separate batches, attained the top three prizes.

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June, 12, 2017

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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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