Friday, January 21, 2011

2010 Winter 'wild' Concubine Oolong from Feng Huang

This tea comes from a similar abandoned plantation in the same region of Feng Huang, which is part of the Dong Ding area in Central Taiwan. Up to the early 1990s, the best Taiwan Oolongs used to come from there. But consumer demand shifted to High Mountain Oolong coming from higher and higher altitudes. Prices would be two to four times more expensive for teas coming from a higher plantation. The work in the field is the same, and these Gao Shan (High Mountain) teas don't even need to be roasted. This explains why farmers abandoned some lower altitude plantations as they created new ones in the mountains.

In the last years, though, there is a new interest for organic, and more natural teas. So, farmers start to harvest again plantations that they had abandoned. However, now they don't view insect bites as reducing their yields, but as quality improvements like for Oriental Beauty.

These luanze (qingxin) Oolong leaves were handpicked in mid November 2010.

Origin: Feng Huang (700 meters altitude)

Process: Rolled Oolong with a traditional medium strength charcoal roasting.

Brewing: 3 gr for 6 minutes in a porcelain competition set.

The leaves are a little darker and redder than this Hung Shui Oolong from the same area. A slightly stronger oxidation and tea jassid bites are the major difference between these 2 teas. Therefore, the brew looks more orange than golden. But it looks just as clear and transparent!

The flavors are more fruity and honey like. When the boiling water is poured fast, the roasting aromas appear almost like in a Yan Cha. In the later brews, the fragrances become lighter and fresher.

The most amazing about this tea is its long and sweet aftertaste. It's strong but balanced. It's pure but complex. And it feels natural and complete. (And I could go on and on raving about it... It lasted over half an hour!)

Tea can be so simple. The power of Hung Shui Oolong meets the natural Beauty of Concubine Oolong. And these leaves are barely rested from their roasting! I can't even start to imagine how they will evolve with some patient aging... (But I will put some aside to find out!)

(Pussy willow catkins for my Cha Xi.
It's a popular Lunar New Year ornament!)


Nicolas said...

Bonjour Stéphane,

Cela me fait très plaisir de voir des photos de la plantation et particulièrement la quadri-photo en début d'article.

L'épaisseur des feuilles laisse paraître un volume dans lequel les saveur peuvent trouver plus d'espace à se loger.

Leur tenue/droiture sont (dans ma perception encore inexpérimenté) synonyme de bonne santé de la plantation.

Il me restera à tester ce thé pour confronter mon point de vue, mes projections, à la réalité de la tasse.

(Je t'envoi un mail pour les détails de la commande.)


C said...

Dear Stephane:

This tea is brilliant. Bursting with an espresso-like flavour with sweet, fruity hints.

I will definitely be purchasing this again.

Thank you!

Ontario, Canada