Posts Tagged ‘Brandy Oolong’

Brandy Oolong Kombucha and Sweet Roast Lei Cha

On the left, we have Lei Cha, a ground up medley of nuts, seeds, grains, tea, and tea powder brewed in hot water traditionally drunk by the Hakka people of Taiwan. (Click here to see my previous post on Lei Cha with pictures).

I used sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, cashews, Taiwanese high mountain Jade Oolong Tea, and ground up Sweet Roast (to a fine powder) from Mauna Kea Tea. These ingredients are ground together using a mortar and pestle. This hearty broth is actually quite enjoyable and filling. The batch I made here is a little more crude than the Lei Cha we made in Taiwan, but it’s a good Hawai’i version to start with :)

Pictured above right and below, I made some Kombucha using Ruby 18 Brandy Oolong Tea from Taiwan. Kombucha is a fermented beverage often made with tea. It becomes quite carbonated and takes on a sweet and sour or sugary and vinegar-like taste. This particular batch was my first and it turned out great. I’ve now tried other batches with different tea, but Ruby 18 has proven superior and I will continue to ferment with it.


Taiwan Oolong Study Tour 2011 – Day 5

Fewf, Day 5 and only two more to go! I’m going to keep this one a little short as I’m pressed for time!

On This day, we visited the SanHsia Tea District. We met with a couple jolly farmers who showed us their tea gardens and discussed a used-coffee grind program they incorporate into their gardens. The results of using used coffee grinds on their beds have been positive!

We continued to visit a tea processing factory and then on to more cupping! The pictures show the details. After some lunch, we made our way to a tea accessory shop where we made many joyous purchases.

Taiwan Oolong Study Tour 2011 – Day 2 (part 2)

Black Tea Production

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After sampling Ruby 18 at the TRES branch (in my previous post) we had the chance to hand-roll our own black tea using leaves from the Ruby 18 cultivar! Assisted by the beautiful Angela, we hand-rolled for about 45 minutes. Occasionally we broke up the rolled ball to cool the leaves down as heat can build up which speeds up the oxidation process and we don’t want that to happen too rapidly. Usually, the leaves are rolled for 1.5 hours but we had a tight schedule, of course. The rolled leaves rested for further oxidation in a controlled environment before drying and other pre-packaging steps.

The final product was a Brandy Oolong, named for its colour and to distinguish it from a black tea (or red tea). Brandy Oolong’s differ from Black tea in that they aren’t quite fully oxidized, but rather, 85% – 90% oxidized. This is quite a classy and new category of Taiwanese Oolongs. As each of our hand-rolled tea leaves remained separate from everyone else’s, we all received our own personal canisters of the Brandy Oolong that we made; they arrived a few days later – what a treat!

In Taiwan, the organic farming movement isn’t nearly as big as it is in the West. Conventional farming stills dominates agriculture where pesticides, fertilizers, and other harmful farming practices are implemented for various reasons. Some tea gardens have been left to the weeds or wiped out to re-plant the betel nut palm trees (above left). Due to their shallow root system and fast rate of growth the betel nut palm, in large numbers, poses the problem of erosion, not to mention chewing on their nuts is an unhealthy habit. Some farmers, like the gentleman (above right), have taken ruined areas of land (bottom left) and turned them into flourishing tea gardens (bottom right). Not only is he promoting the organic movement, but he’s clearing out old abdondoned betel nut plantations in the process.

After all was said and done, we finally made our way up AliShan range. This required 36 complete switch-backs!! They are actually labelled as you round each narrow corner. The switch-backs only took us part of the way to our final destination, however. It took about three hours to clime a height of 1100 meters (3300 ft) where we took rest for the night in a quaint little tea town.

Some of us actually drank tea well into the night with the local farmer and manufacturer. He served us gong fu style. The following day, he would teach us how to make high mountain jade oolong – from start to finish. Check out the next post for all the details!


>> Taiwan Oolong Study Tour 2011 (Day 3) – the journey of tea leaf >>



Taiwan Oolong Study Tour 2011 – Day 2 (part 1)

In Taiwan, people are growing tea everywhere. You can see farms and plantations in all different stages. Before heading up to AliShan (Ali Mountain range) we stopped at a tea plantation in it’s early stages of development. On this farm, small plastic bags are filled with well-draining soil where tea-cuttings will take root. The farm workers fill thousands of them!




As the farmer at WenShan addressed, cuttings from a mother plant are used to maintain consistent propagation. The farmer here pointed out a key feature of cuttings: that being the tiny little shoot between the leaf and the stem (it’s difficult to see, but it’s there in the picture above). As well, when choosing a cutting from a mother plant, a bottom portion of the stem should be brown and matured, while a top portion should be green and young. Only one leaf is required along with the visible shoot for growing to occur. Cuttings are usually shade-grown so the cuttings establish a root system instead of flowering.

We stopped by at another farm in the area where part of the farmers plantation was organic. Here are some good indicators that a farmer isn’t using pesticides!

I like being on tea farms. The bugs, the fresh smelling soil, the elements of nature, the flush, the fluctuations, the uncertainties, the honest work, the reward; it’s all appealing to me. As you sow the seed, so it shall grow. I’m not sure where tea will take me yet, or how it will influence my livelihood, but vocation or not, I’m just happy to drink tea, run soil through my fingers, and contemplate how those two things are interconnected. Sometimes, just drink tea for the sake of drinking tea, not because it’s healthy, not because it warms you when your cold or cheers you when your down, but for one moment, just drink tea and let it speak for itself. There need not always be a reason to drink tea – it can be that good.

Off topic! Here we go…back on the road to a TRES (Taiwan Research and Extension Station) branch above Sun Moon Lake. This branch has the only driveway I’ve ever seen  lined with tea evergreens – and a lake view! We explored the center, cupped a large number of different teas produced at the branch. This is actually amazing, why? because at centers like TRES, they are creating new cultivars that offer new flavors, aromas, colours, and environmental adaptability – amazing, I say! For example, TRES No. 18, otherwise known as Ruby 18, is a cross between a large-leaf Assamica variety and a wild growing Taiwanese tea plant. It can take about 21 years of research and experimentation before the cultivar-to-be goes through registration and appellation. Ruby 18 took more than 50 and was named in 1999. It has an outstanding spicy flavor profile with strong notes of mint, cinnamon, and even pepto bismol?

I’m going to leave it here and start the second part of Day 2 with some slideshow action.

>> Taiwan Oolong Study Tour 2011 (Day 2, part 2) >>