Shihmen Tie Guan Yin "Stone Gate" Oolong Tea - Spring 2020Taiwan Sourcing
This region, Shihmen, is now a fading legend of tea. When we arrived to meet Mrs. Xie, an elegant and tender lady in her 70s, we found a small town with not much tea left. Sure, there were lots of Jin Xuan varietal that was introduced by the Farmer's Association over decades ago, but this is not what make Shihmen a unique role in Taiwanese tea culture.
Shihmen is the northmost place that grows tea in Taiwan, and famous for a varietal called "Hard Twig Red Heart." Although bearing the same term "red heart" in its name like the Tie Guan Yin varietal called "Red Heart Twisted Tail Peach"(紅心歪尾桃), this varietal is completely different from it. This factor became quite noticeable after several hours into the indoor withering. We noticed it bearing very similar characteristics as "#21 Rhythm" does, which is a varietal for creating black tea such as this "Nectar Melody" This characteristics made us to change the processing ideology accordingly to fit its original footprint.
We finished the tea without surprise as the sunlight began to beam from the coast. Not surprisingly the quantity of final production is extremely small, however the result is beyond expectation as the offspring of grandma Xie tasted the tea grown by their elder with awe. "This is actually quite delicious" The daughter of Mrs. Xie said to us. She was reluctant to give it a try, but now she is convinced.
This "Stone Gate" oolong we made has some traits of wild tea despite being managed by grandma Xie. First thing you will notice from this tea is the pungent Jackfruit aroma from the boiled water, then after that you will be soaked into its only-found-in-Shihmen taste and body feeling no where else can offer. We truly hope the tea industry in Shihmen could be revived, and we hope this wonder we created will be that first attempt to make people notice this wonderful place in Taiwan again just like "the Harbor."
If you are interested in how the "Stone Gate" was processing, please visit our Youtube channel to find out. Click here!
Harvest: Spring 2020 / 春 貳零貳零
Varietal: Red Tig Red Heart / 硬枝紅心
Elevation: 100 M / 壹佰 公尺
Region: Shihmen / 石門
Oxidation Level: 45% / 分之 肆拾伍
Roast Level: 3 / 參 分
The initial aroma in the heated vessel is ripened fruit with slight roast and sour notes, reminded me of some dessert made with black tea and Pu-erh.
An old dog took quite some amount of resolution to finally put this tea up for you, because an old dog is really afraid the disappearance of this unicorn tea from the world. Another plantation next to the coast just like "Harbor Tea," yet so different in every aspect from terroir to varietal. An old dog truthfully think places like this shall be a cultural heritage for not just tea lover, but anyone who cares about the preservation of unique and beautiful culture from the corner of the world.