Three new teas from Taiwan
Taiwan is a small island with a rich culture in tea, dating back to the 17th century. The terrain and climate have proven to be conducive for growing high quality tea. Taiwan typically produces over 20,000 tons each year. While all types of tea are produced there, Taiwan is revered for their refreshing, fragrant and complex oolong teas.
There are six tea growing districts in Taiwan— Nantou and Tapiei being the two major districts. Harvest seasons in these districts depend on the type of tea. Green teas are harvested in the very early spring, before the Qing Ming Festival, a traditional Chinese festival held on April 4th. Centered around paying tribute to ancestors, during this festival, the living sweep their ancestors’ graves and make offerings of gifts, food and prayers. Black teas are mostly harvested in the summer due to the sun being strongest to assist with oxidation. Oolongs are harvested in the spring, working from the bottom of the mountains moving upwards and the winter time, working from the top of mountains downwards.
Partnering with the Taiwanese government’s Council of Agriculture, an organization of tea masters and scientists was created. The Taiwan Tea Research and Extension Station (TTRES) was established with the sole purposes of researching tea cultivation, developing new tea cultivars, overseeing and promoting sustainable tea practices and providing continuing education for tea farmers, producers and consumers. Currently, TTRES has created over 20 cultivars. To encourage continued learning and evolution of tea processing, the TTRES holds annual competitions that allow farmers and producers to showcase and be awarded for their teas.
We are excited to share three new Taiwanese teas — two oolongs and one black. Each new addition has a unique tasting element. Jin Xuan is a lightly oxidized, unroasted oolong. Often referred to as “milk oolong”, it is more descriptive of its mouthfeel versus taste. Naturally rich in lactones, this tea can be brewed at a range of temperatures. The higher the brew temp, the more vegetal and floral qualities shine through. Dropping the temperature will increase the creaminess of the mouthfeel. Roasted Dong Ding is a medium oxidized oolong. Translated to “frozen peaks” for the mountain it was grown on which is also where the first tea was cultivated. Roasted four times, this tea has a pleasant smokiness that complements the sweetness that lingers with each sip. No.18 Red Jade is a hybrid cultivar that was created by the TTRES. This hand harvested black tea is grown in a tiny village near Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan’s largest natural lake, named after the northern (sun shaped) and southern (moon shaped) island. Only the youngest, most tender leaves are used for production and are best harvested in the summertime. The intense summer heat and sun assist in natural oxidation of the leaves. This cup has a fruit sweetness, hint of cinnamon and a cooling menthol-like sensation on the finish.
Our new additions have been produced by the Wang family. Hailing from the district of Nantou, they have several generations of tea producing and knowledge under their belts. With Taiwanese culture being deeply rooted in tea, the Wang family hopes to share their tea around the world as a way to keep their culture and history alive. It is our hope here at Passenger, that we can continue building a relationship and showcasing their delicious teas.