Shihmen Wild "Gate of Milestone" Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea - Spring 2022Taiwan Sourcing
It has been two years since we first discovered this living fossil plantation in the spring of 2020. As the years have flown by, the seasonal yield of this particular plantation has finally reached a stable state where we are able to offer teas from this legendary plantation at a relatively affordable price.
Shihmen is the northernmost tea growing region in Taiwan and it is even more notable for growing a rare varietal called "Hard Twig Red Heart." This area was once one of the biggest regions for black tea production during the era of Japanese rule in Taiwan (1895-1945). After the Taiwanese tea industry began to crumble in the 1980s, Shihmen and many other regions of tea production have nearly disappeared altogether. It was a nothing short of a miracle to encounter Grandma Xie and her family, who are still growing "Hard Twig Red Heart" in Shihmen without using any pesticides or herbicides.
The season's harvest finally picked up to a level that we are able to offer a reasonable quantity of this legendary tea, therefore the price you see here is not as extreme as our previous offerings. As Grandma Xie is getting older and older, we were happy to learn that her children are willing to continue collaborating with us. This tea marks a great milestone for the spirit of Taiwan Sourcing in the effort to preserve the precious heritage of Taiwan.
Although this varietal has "red heart" in its name like the Tie Guan Yin varietal "Red Heart Twisted Tail Peach"(紅心歪尾桃), however this varietal is completely different. This Hard Twig Red Heart tea has a taste that would be hard to even approach with any other varietal. Its potent aroma seems comparable to some of the scents you would most often find in a musky men’s cologne. The initial scent of the leaves are nutty and leathery with just a touch of rose. When brewed, the deep liquor doesn’t leave a thick coat on the mouth, but has a persistent aroma that you can enjoy with each breath. This tea has a pleasantly light spice, like clove with a vanilla aroma. The body sensation after drinking is like being covered in a cozy wool blanket, making you want to curl up and drift to sleep listening to the sound of rain pattering against the window.
Harvest: Spring 2022 / 春 貳零貳貳
Varietal: Hard Twig Red Heart / 硬枝紅心
Elevation: 100 M / 壹佰 公尺
Region: Shihmen / 石門
Oxidation Level: 35% / 分之 卅伍
Roast Level: 2 / 貳 分
I had to toss everything I thought I knew about Tie Guan Yin out the window after a few sessions. It's not green and it's not heavily roasted either. This isn't Anxi Tie Guan Yin, nor is it Muzha. What it is is a behemoth of a tea that has me convinced I could serve it to someone who claims to detest Tie Guan Yin and blow their mind. It's that good. Sweetness sticks to my palate with every sip of the thick, oily tea soup. What an awesome mouthfeel! It's a very refined tea, very moreish and also rather potent.
Really enjoyable from the first sip. Smooth thick body and light flavor after a quick steep. Right away on the second steep you have the full effect of the variety and processing entwined. It keeps brewing dark and thick with boldness and and curiosity. I find myself enjoying it quite a bit more than I thought, as it steeps with increasing charm. Insight while brewing, walking the wet stone steps down an old alley in Taipei, a bit so obvious door beckons, leading to peaceful yet vital times in a tea room. Know what you’re looking for. Find it. Cherish it.
An old dog is trying........