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Thursday, June 02, 2011

Taiwan Tea Trip: Muzha Part III

The Chinese say that to make a good tea takes Time/Weather 天時, Location/Soil 地利, and Human/Skills 人和. After several years of watching how an Oolong is made, I have to say I have a lot of respect for those dedicated tea farmers.

Traditional Tieguanyin is rich in its body and flavor. This tea takes more oxidation 發酵, stirring 攪拌, and roasting 烘焙 when compared to Baozhong and High Mountain Oolongs. In fact, it takes more work than just about any other oolong tea. On our most recent tea tour, we were lucky to see part of the oxidation and stirring processes.




We went inside a small room where there was a metal tube, a tumbling machine, and a tea rolling machine. We also saw small balls of tea on the floor. Farmer Zhang opened one ball and loosened up the tea leaves a bit on a bamboo tray, then he tossed the leaves in a tube that heated up the leaves (I forgot to ask what the temperature in the tube was). Once in a while, he would reach in and feel the tea. I remembered one time I was on Dong Ding mountain and a tea maker offered to let me reach in the tube and feel the leaves. I turned down that opportunity because I noticed that temperature read 300C and I could hear a hissing sound from the leaves!




After he poured the leaves out of the tube, he rolled them up and would then pick up another ball of tea from the ground and repeat the process. He told us that he had to do this about 50 times!





Tieguanyin is known for its roasting. Farmer Zhang told us that he would do one roasting and let the tea rest for about two weeks before doing further roastings. He said a lot of customers go to him for Tieguanyin that was done a year or two ago. After that amount of time, the tea's fire will mellow, which makes the tea rounder and smoother. He said Baozhong and high mountain oolongs are designed to be drunk when fresh. That kind of tea is bright and the energy focuses on the head and mouth area, while Tieguanyin's focus is on the throat area and its energy travels down through one's whole body.





And here is the delicious cup of tea the farmer is looking for.......




3 comments:

nwymsb said...

Nice,I think this is my new favorite tea!

Nice to see the process.

Mikey said...

Wonderful blog post! Although Tie Guan Yin in the new, greener style is delicious, I find myself always gravitating back towards the traditional heavier roast style. Like you mentioned, drinking a nice, darkly roasted TGY is warming down to the very core!

Shiuwen said...

Thanks, Mikey. I personally prefer Tieguanyin to be roasted.