August 2023 harvest, bug-bitten high oxidation Oolong tea
Easy on the body, umami taste and exquisite perfume.
An excellent comfort tea for a relaxed session.
Mr Huang is a Taiwanese producer established in Ailao Mountain since 1994. In the middle of Yunnan, he cultivate qingxin oolong gardens and processes high mountain oolong tea in his factory.
After the bulk of the harvest in May, some shoots grow again in a second flush. The gardens are invaded by Jacobiasca Formosana, a tiny jassid that thrives in the gardens and loves to puncture the tea leaves. This mild stress provokes a reaction in the tea trees. The holes in the leaves make the trees vulnerable to viruses. As a reaction, the plants will suicide the cells around the puncture. The polyphenols contained in the cells will oxidize and give a special fragrance to the tea. It is a process comparable to a shaking step, but achieved by the insects in the gardens instead of in the factory.
The processing of this tea is similar to high mountain oolong, although faster since the tea is not rolled into pearls. It is withered to soften the leaves, shaken briefly to complete the work of the jassids, left to rest for a long time to reach a high level of oxidation, cooked in a kill-green machine to stop the oxidation, rolled briefly to extract juice and give a basic shape to the leaves, and finally dried with hot air.
This tea is not available every year, as it requires a large number of jassids to thrive in the fields. Since Mr Huang's plantations are organic and have a good overall biodiversity, he cannot control when the jassids will come.
Non-organic gardens can more easily allow the jassids to thrive by spraying pesticides after the first harvest, clearing the way from natural predators for the jassids to colonize the fields.