Welcome Terroir Tea, our latest addition to the Amoda Curated Collection! Terroir Tea has two amazing oolong teas featured in our February tea box.
Their modern tea salon is located in the beautiful oceanside city of Victoria, BC, Canada (also my hometown!). Terroir Tea also specializes in the tea type that sent me down the rabbit hole of specialty tea. Taiwanese oolong is my one true love. If you haven’t experienced Taiwanese oolong, you are in for a real treat. Terroir Tea sent us a very special red (dark) oolong from the Alishan Mountain region. Not only is this a famous tea region, Eco Red is an ecological farm and this is truly an artisan tea. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Meet Terroir Tea. They specialize in oolong. Why? Well, they think "oolong is the most exciting tea type because it covers such a vast array of sensory experiences. Heavenly floral bouquets, deep cocoa richness, milky mouth filling textures and deep delightful honey sweetness that seems to linger forever. Oolong provides all of this diversity and so much more.” You’re intrigued, right?
I loved talking with Charity, one of the owners of Terroir Tea. We got along great because she too is a self proclaimed 'not-know-it-all'. There’s always more to learn. Charity and Jason personally source from small growers and cooperatives who produce teas that embody the terroir (the relationship between a growing region and its end product, according to Terroir Tea).
They curated a tea menu for their tea salon that "brings these unique flavours and aromas to your cup and heightens the senses".
More about the teas. The two oolongs in the February box are Tsui Yu Jade and Alishan Eco Red. To an oolong newbie, the names may seem a bit mysterious.
Tsui Yu means “Blue-green Jade” and is one of Taiwan’s four main tea cultivars. This cultivar was actually designed for making oolongs. Its leaves can undergo different oxidation levels during processing. The tea geek in me thinks this is pretty cool. Terroir Tea gets into more detail:
This Tsui Yu was grown at 400m elevation in Mingjian Township where fog and increased variation in temperatures are daily occurrence and help create ideal conditions for growing tea. The tea farm is part of a co-op of farmers who implement sustainable farming methods and use no chemical weed killers or chemical fertilizers.
Alishan Eco Red refers to Alishan mountain - one of the most famous tea-growing regions in Taiwan, Eco refers to the ecological farm the tea was grown on and Red refers to the colour of the leaves from the oxidation level - in this case it’s 80%. This oolong is not roasted. The dark colour of the leaves is solely from the oxidation process. In this process, the leaves are bruised, breaking cell walls that allow the enzymes to react with oxygen, browning like a sliced apple.
From Terroir’s website: This high mountain oolong is produced at an altitude of 1,200 metres above sea level. The moist, cool climate creates a continual mist that causes the plants to grow slowly because of the abundant cloud cover and reduced sunlight. Chemical fertilizers are not used, which is in keeping with the tea farmer’s traditional tribal culture and spirit of purity, simplicity, community and respect of nature.
Speaking of the farmer.. Charity was able to get in touch with her to find out more about this beautiful red tea. Apparently, this tea came out even above the expectation of the farmer! She wanted to see how the flavour would be processing over 80%. She tried harvesting red oolong tea from her ecological farm because the leafhopper was biting the leaves, which creates a honey taste perfect for heavily oxidized oolong (the biting induces a chemical change that improves the aroma). She won a Superior Taste Award for this tea from the International Taste and Quality Institute.
Steeping note. It may also come as a surprise after steeping these rolled balls, that your strainer is packed with full leaves of the tea plant! They may not fully open up in the first steep, so make sure you hang onto those leaves for a second steep where you’ll extend they time an extra 30 seconds or so. Try steeping it a third time too!
Let us know about your oolong experiences in the comments section below.
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