Teas from Taiwan – our new chapter

After a long preparation, we have managed to bring few excellent teas from North and Central Taiwan. Oolong Baozhong and Honey Fragrant Black tea come from Mr. Yu Ban Zhang. He founded a ‘Respect for Great Nature’ tea farm in Pinglin district, North Taiwan. Black tea Red Rhyme comes from Yu chi district and Green Rhyme oolong from Nantou, both in Central Taiwan.
Oolong Striped Baozhong
Mr. Yu Ban Zhang is very connected with his tea and the land in Pinglin, Northern Taiwan. His tea fields are just a few kilometers away from the largest natural water reservoir serving Taipei. There are numerous tea farms in the area. The great amounts of pesticides and chemical fertilizers sink, in detriment to the ecosystem on their path and after. He decided long ago to not be part of this problem and became a bright example of someone who can produce fine tea without polluting the environment. He proudly refers to his tea farm as ‚Respect for Great Nature Farm‘. Likely to serve guests a free delicious meal of organic vegetables from his garden just outside his centuries old traditional Taiwanese courtyard home. Mr. Yu is happy to share info of how the weeds, vegetables, insects and worms of the natural ecosystem are enriching the land. Just smell the rich soil and you will know. He is so kind hearted that he even allows insects to slowly find their way out of the baskets and racks of freshly picked tea. He is a very rare tea farmer and producing some of the best teas in Taiwan. The proof is in the cup.
Baozhong Oolong is a Northern Taiwanese tea that dates back to the Qing Dynasty. The name refers the traditional paper packaging of the tea leaves for sale and export as well as representing a well known name for regional tea. It is characterized by a special light withering and oxidization/ fermentation  process that produces pronounced yet pleasant  natural floral, cool and vegetal fragrances and flavors. Though it was more oxidized/ fermented in the past, the common popular processing style could be described as the greenest of the oolongs falling between the green tea and oolong tea categories. This Baozhong is made with hand picked leaves from Qing Xin Oolong varietal tea bushes.
Honey Fragrant Black Tea
This tea is also from Mr. Yu ban Zhang’s ‘Respect for Great Nature’ tea farm in Pinglin, Northern Taiwan. This type of black tea is quite well known in Taiwan and is known as Mi Xiang Hong Cha. It is made in many different regions; perhaps the most famous being Hualian County on the east coast. More tea farmers are trying their hand at crafting this great tea known for its, true to its name, honey- like sweetness and fragrance. This unique flavor is the result of allowing the seasonal ‘leaf hopper’ insects bite the leaves a little before they are picked. The saliva from the insects influences the fermentation breakdown of the tea as the leaves’ cells juices come in contact with the air. Mr. Yu’s version is smooth, rich, sweet and pleasant due to its responsible relationship with its ecosystem and expert tea crafting.
This Red tea is made with hand picked leaves from Jin Xuan varietal tea bushes. Jinxuan Oolong (TaiCha #12; 27-son)
Red Rhyme (black tea)
This tea comes from a very small tea factory operated Mr. Liang and his son in Yu Chi District, Central Taiwan.  Yu Chi District, which borders Taiwan’s beautiful Sun Moon Lake, has become synonymous with fine Taiwanese Black Tea, or as the Chinese and Taiwanese call it- Hong Cha (Red tea). Taiwan was colonized by the Japanese for a long period during the first half of the 19th century. While they were there, the Japanese put great effort into perfecting Taiwan’s tea industry and finding or creating the perfect cultivars for certain climates. They discovered that the Sun Moon lake region was perfect for large leafed Assamica tea trees from India. The area is still mainly famous for Assam Black tea (quite different now from Indian Assam tea due to its new home and superior processing) but also for ‘Hong Yu’ or Red Jade which is a cross breed of Assam and Qing Xin Oolong. The Black tea research center originally started by the Japanese has never stopped working on creating new tea varietals and studying red tea processing. Mr. Liang worked there for many years before retiring to start his own small factory steeped with the knowledge and experience he had gained. One of the newest creations that they have come up with is this tea- Red Rhyme, which commemorates the hard working Japanese scientist that started the Tea Institute and even continued to conduct it long after the Japanese left the island. It is the fortunate cross-breeding, or marriage, of a particular type of Assamica Tea tree and mainland China’s famous Keemun black tea. The result is a black tea that is new altogether. It has all the hallmarks of a fine tea- it smoothly goes down your throat, has a delicate fully present cool fragrance that lingers on the breath and makes your whole body feel great. Its as if every cell in your body is singing; humming in harmony with vibrant life. Mr. Liang’s teas are truly meticulously crafted. He only makes black tea, as that is his specialty and where his experience lies.
This tea is made with hand picked leaves from Hong Yun tea varietal bushes or as it is also known; Taiwan Tea No. 21. Mr. Liang sources his teas from direct relationships with friends and relatives which have responsibly farmed the tea. It isn’t certified organic as its difficult for most small farmers to afford the certification process. He assures us that it is free of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. We agree and can once again say “The proof is in the cup.”
Green Rhyme Oolong
This great tea is a ball-shaped oolong from a completely certified organic tea farm in Mingjian District, Nantou County in central Taiwan. A respected Tea Master, Mr. Tsai Yi Zhe, is perhaps the foremost proponent of organic and natural ecosystem teas in Taiwan. He personally convinced this tea farm to ‘go organic’ some 12 years ago. Since that time, their tea has gradually become better and better due to his assistance and the revitalization or the land; falling back in harmony with Mother Nature. Tea in Mingjian doesn’t demand the prices that other Taiwanese tea regions can ask so tea grown there is mostly industrially produced. It is grown with harmful chemicals, machine cut and mechanically produced and largely relegated for use at the countless ‘iced tea drink’ shops and for making bottled tea beverages. However, more and more farmers there are realizing that growing organic and higher quality teas are a way to fetch higher prices. In doing so, they are getting back in touch with the land they inherited from their ancestors and learning how to farm in harmony with the ecosystem again. It isn’t an easy process and takes years of very low tea yields to get the land certified organic, but eventually they start making great teas that people are willing to buy. Their relatives, neighbors and friends are the first to witness their success and often follow their lead. This is the case for this farm that makes this Jade Oolong with the name ‘Green Rhyme’. The farms land is also situated on the edge of the region and is shielded from the industrial farming by some forested hills. It is very near the historically famous Taiwanese tea growing region known as Song Bo Ling. It is lightly oxidized ball shaped oolong often described as ‘green oolong’. This version has a little more oxidization on the edges of the leaves than other green oolongs which provides greater complexity and fragrance. Like other fine organic teas, it is full of life; making your entire body feel great. It also exemplifies another aspect of fine teas; it is very patient and one pot is good for many steepings.
This tea is made with hand picked leaves from Jade Oolong varietal tea bushes. Jade Oolong (TaiCha #13; 29-son)

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