Flavor: Mild floral aroma. Buttery, milky, delicate vegetal character. Soothing, clean aftertaste.
Garden: This batch of tea was sourced from an artisan who has repeatedly won first prize in the Nantou County Tea Trade Association’s Jin Xuan Dong Ding Oolong Tea Competitions. He works with a co-op of farmers that share their knowledge and have repeatedly had their teas tested by Taiwanese food safely lab SGS. A prime example of sustainable methods combined with community-based expertise.
Harvest: Machine cut in medium batches. Spring 2018. Songbolin, Taiwan.
This selection of Jin Xuan has the classic buttery notes of a Jin Xuan Oolong without being overwhelmingly milky. The flavor is buttery, slightly sweet, like summer garden fresh veggies - balanced by the smooth astringent "original oolong" qualities that offer a clean, fragrant finish. This tea has no added flavor.
This batch of tea leaves come from the most active tea roaster and merchant we know. He enters virtually every Oolong Tea competition in central Taiwan, including the largest and most prestigious Oolong Tea competition in the world. He consistently achieves high ratings in all of these competitions. In fact, he won first place for Nantou County's Jin Xuan Dong Ding Oolong twice in a row. In last year's Dong Ding Oolong competition that is comprised of some of the best Oolong Tea makers in the world, he placed 4th out of over 6000 entries. He is a highly motivated, intelligent and progressive individual - making him a leader in his field.
In the last several years, he has formed a cooperative with his neighboring farmer friends who share the same high standards of cultivation and processing. This is in order to collectively produce a significant enough volume to be able to compete with larger scale productions of tea in this region, while maintaining the quality control standards of privately run farms. This team of farmers share their expertise in continually developing the most effective methods for cultivating quality tea.
Jin Xuan Oolong is a hybrid cultivar produced by the government subsidized Tea Research Extension Station (TRES) in Taiwan and is registered as Tai Cha #12 (台茶12號). It was designed to possess a stronger immunity to naturally occurring "pests" in the regional climate of Taiwan while producing a somewhat larger leaf that increases yield. It is known for its buttery or milk flavor qualities and has a milder astringency and smoother texture.
This batch of tea was grown at 400m elevation. These farms are on relatively flat ground, allowing for machine-cut harvesting. The machine that is used for harvesting is a hand-held type of hedge clipper designed to be wielded by two people, one on each side of the row of tea bushes. A vacuum attachment collects the harvested leaves in a cloth bag. While machine harvesting results in a portion of the leaves and stems being cut, this expedient method allows for timely harvest in the late morning hours that ensures the outdoor oxidation step in processing the leaves is done at noon - the ideal time for the initial wilting phase of the leaves. While hand picking maintains the integrity of the tea leaves, it is far more time consuming and labor intensive, and must be started in the early morning hours, but not until the dew on the leaves has evaporated. Machine harvesting provides more control over these daily conditions simply because it is faster and requires fewer hands. The rapidly diminishing local labor force for hand-picked tea is a real issue in Taiwan. So machine harvesting is a significantly more sustainable method.