Nutmeg, honey, pastry aroma. Balanced, sweet/savory character. Green leafy vegetable and mild curry notes. Clean, subtle spicy finish.
Garden: This tea comes from a certified organic tea farm in the remote Yushan High Mountain Tea growing region in southern Nantou County, Taiwan. It is an isolated plot of tea deep in the Yushan Mountain range, offering ideal climate conditions. We brought this batch of tea to our friend in Lugu to lightly roast. It's an exemplary batch of naturally farmed tea.
Harvest: Hand-picked, small batch, summer 2021
Our current batch of Eco-Farmed High Mountain Oolong Tea is from the same source as Batches 51of the Eco-Cha Tea Club. This batch is from their secondary plot of tea. It's at a slightly higher elevation than the plot from where Batch 59 and 69 were harvested.The tea trees on this farm have adjusted to organic living, and just in the past year or two have been producing well.
This crop of tea is the most recent growth picked from new branches on the trees that were allowed to grow since last fall. There was no significant yield throughout the long drought. Only since it began to rain again in May did these trees come to life, and the new growth was harvested about two months later. These leaves were also affected by the Green Leafhopper, and other pests. This is inevitable, given that this is an organic farm and the summer months are most susceptible to bugs!
This batch of tea was processed similarly to a High Mountain Tea, but with a bit more oxidation. The oxidation level is the result of more outdoor and indoor withering, as well as shuffling of the leaves. These leaves require this extra manipulation due to their natural "toughness" as a result of not being the tender new growth immediately following a previous harvest or pruning.
What these leaves have to offer as a result of the relatively slow, natural growing phase is their substance. They simply have a lot more constitution. So while they do not offer the fresh, fragrant, and delicate profile of a standard High Mountain Oolong when brewed, they have much more composition. And this composition brews slowly and steadily, with significantly more endurance. We suggest a 1:15 ratio of leaf to water. We used about 11g of tea in the above 175mL Gongfu style teapot.
It starts off with a warming spices/mild savory aroma, and brews a smooth, thick texture, with floral, honey, and tangy notes, and ends with a balanced, sweet/dry, lasting finish. It brews steadily and consistently for several brews. Don't be surprised if the first and second brew are a bit timid. These leaves take a bit of steeping to open up. But those first brews offer their own special introduction into the character of these leaves. The lighter more subtle notes are revealed before the more substantial constitution issues forth.
These leaves were baked at low temperature (80-90*C) for 8 hours, for three sessions, then a shorter fourth session — for a total of nearly 30 hours! This has a significant effect on the flavor profile in terms of transforming any green, grassy character into a more mild, sweeter, pastry-like flavor profile. It also ensures that any remaining moisture in the leaves, and especially stems is removed, which in effect cures the leaves. This means that the flavor profile and nature of the leaves is much more stable, and able to maintain their character over time.
Our Eco-Farmed High Mountain Oolong Tea is from a certified organic farm located on the periphery of Yushan National Park. Yushan, or Jade Mountain is not only the highest peak in Taiwan, but also in all of east Asia. This farm is the closest developed land to the park, in a remote mountain valley.
This batch of tea was harvested on July 12. We arrived at the tea factory in late afternoon, observing and assisting all through the night. We are so impressed with this couple's work and the story of how they came to transition their inherited family farm to being certified organic that we are making a documentary video of it. A husband and wife manage this farm that has been fully certified for over 3 years now. They began transitioning to organic ten years ago when they decided to stop using chemical farm products. More about that story in the documentary. Stay tuned!
The tea trees were allowed to grow naturally following the spring harvest last year, with no further harvest or pruning. Allowing substantial new growth nourishes the plants and strengthens their root base. Only the growing tips of the new branches were picked by hand, but leaf growth was slower, as the plants already had a new growth phase in the previous months. So these leaves were thicker, a bit tougher, and with considerable more substance than if it was new growth immediately following a harvest, or even more so — a pruning.
We can see how naturally these tea trees are allowed to grow. It's a wholly different farming method than conventional farming, and the produce from a farm like this is also next level. In our perception, based on continually visiting tea farms in Taiwan for over 20 years, this source is a rare and precious find. The combination of a pristine geographic location with an ideal micro-climate for tea production, and the natural farming methods are just not to be found. In a word, we love this farm, as well as its caretakers!
Brewing Guide: 9g tea in 300ml 80°C water. Steep for 3 minutes. Re-steep. Adjust to taste.
Cold Brew: Use 7g of tea per liter of water. Brew tea at room temperature for 2-3 hours, and enjoy. Or you can put your cold brew bottle in the fridge to brew overnight and be ready to drink the next day.
Gongfu Brew: Use 10g for a 150ml pot. Use boiling temperature water and brew for about 60 seconds, second brew 50 seconds. Increase brewing time with each successive brew. The leaves can be brewed 8-9 times.