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Flavor: Floral, rainforest aroma. Mild, buttery flavor. Pronounced, lingering, fragrant aftertaste.
Garden: These leaves are from a farm in the highest elevation tea growing region of Taiwan. The tea garden is managed by two brothers from a family in Lugu with a history of tea making. The size of this family-run farm is smaller than most in this area.
Harvest: Hand picked in small batches. Winter 2016. Tsui Hua Village, Lishan, Taichung, Taiwan.
This batch of tea was slightly more oxidized in its processing than a standard High Mountain Oolong. Heavier oxidation results in a more substantial, balanced brew. The aroma and flavor become more subtle, but more rich and smooth in texture and composition. Some of the floral fragrance is is compromised, but most serious drinkers feel that it is well worth it in exchange for a more complex, full-bodied brew.
This source is following a recent trend in high elevation tea production, which is to allow the leaves to oxidize a bit more than the conventional standard. The character of the tea that results is that it is a mellower, more subtle brew that has depth and lasting flavor. This selection is particularly soothing and satisfying as its flavor lasts and delicately transforms over several infusions. We are fortunate enough to be offered a small amount of the custom made tea.
We have more opportunities to visit the Huang family in their home in Lugu these days. Each time we learn more about their farm and their experiences in producing some of Taiwan's most renowned and valuable tea. The whole family is quite friendly, yet serious about their work. In discussing this batch of tea, they related how the relatively new introduction of a machine that compresses the tea leaves in preparation for their rolling. This machine has partially replaced the rolling of the tea leaves in tightly wrapped ball-shaped cloth. They discovered that this new method has a noticeable result in the very minimal oxidation that occurs after the leaves have been exposed to high temperature to kill the live enzymes in the leaf that are largely responsible for oxidation. The new compactor machine results in less post-production oxidation than the rolling method. So the final result was just a tad bit less oxidized than they had intended, but enough to satisfy their customer who ordered it.
On our first meeting with the two brothers who manage the farm, our conversation wandered to broader topics in the world of tea, and the father joined in to describe their history of tea cultivation. He is mostly retired now, but was an award winning Dong Ding Oolong artisan who managed a tea garden between Dong Ding Mountain and Phoenix Village for decades.