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October, 6, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Behind The Scenes Of A Taiwan TV News Show

Behind the scenes of a tv show about Eco-Cha

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

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

Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Concubine 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 Shares Tea At The First Annual Portland Tea Festival

Eco-Cha shares tea at the PDX Tea Fest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Choose a Good Looking Oolong Tea

Judge Oolong from Looking at it

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

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

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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April, 3, 2017

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Eco-Cha Tea Club: Award Winning Alishan High Mountain Oolong Tea

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Award Winning Alishan High Mountain Oolong Tea

 

Our friend, who is the most successful player we know in Taiwan's tea competitions, sourced 4 batches of tea from this village to be prepared for the winter 2016 competition in the Meishan Farmers' Association. He achieved awards in the Top Place ( top 2%), Gold Medal (top 10%), and Silver Medal (top 16%) categories. This month's Eco-Cha Tea Club batch is a combination of the remainder of tea leaves that achieved Gold and Silver Medal awards in a competition of more than 1000 entries.

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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

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