Thursday, January 10, 2019

Spring and winter in TianChi

We've explored one of Taiwan's most exclusive, most beautiful and highest tea plantation: the TianChi gardens which are part of the FuShou Shan farm. Let's revisit them twice in the comfort of our Chaxi.

Let's start with the spring version harvested on May 19th.

Since I want this tea session to be educational, I have (exceptionally) weighed my dry leaves: 3 grams only. But instead of using a standard competition set, I choose to brew in a (neutral) porcelain gaiwan. I preheat it well, but I don't time my brew. I just make sure that the leaves open up well after the first brew.
Direct pour in the cups: it requires practice and skill. That's also why it's called gongfu cha!
Cristal clear brew, amazing jade color, fragrances of spring flowers and a sweet energetic taste. This is High Mountain Oolong perfection.
Spring is light, sunny and refined.

Let's turn our attention to the winter harvest. This is going to be very interesting, because these leaves come from the very same tea garden as the spring leaves above. They were harvested on October 26th, 2018. Hey! Why is a tea from end of October labeled 'winter'? For 2 reasons:
1. the Chinese lunar calendar has a different date for the seasons as the western calendar. Each season starts earlier for the Chinese. For instance, spring starts with the Chinese New Year (early February this year).
2. the growth period for tea in very high elevations is very short. The first leaves of the year are called spring and the last are called winter.
3 grams is just the right amount to cover the bottom of the gaiwan. With such an Oolong, you don't need more to enjoy its unique aromas.
The color of the open leaves is already very different. They have a yellow hue instead of a dark green one.
The color of the brew is also a little bit more yellow, but the concentration level depends also on the length of the brew.
In terms of aromas and taste, the differences with spring are very subtle. Both seasons are outstanding and share the energy of this high altitude above 2200 meters.
This winter brew is a little bit less fragrant, but has a deeper aftertaste. Maybe you'll find more nuances when brewing these 2 Oolongs.
The most obvious difference is in the spent leaves. The brews, however, can be very similar if you pay attention to the brewing. Even the last and longest brew remains clear and light.
Spring vs winter
An outstanding tea garden for spring and winter!

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