The tea plant may have been born in Yunnan, but it was nurtured to maturity elsewhere.
Tea first came to Taiwan in the 1700s and it flourished in the lush soil of Formosa. Over the centuries, Taiwanese tea masters have taken growing, breeding and production techniques to another level. Many consider Taiwanese oolong to be the zenith of tea production worldwide.
In recent times, Yunnan has attracted Taiwanese tea producers in search of truly clean, previously unfarmed land. In the early years of this century, this is what our farmers did. And a new generation of Taiwanese tea masters came to focus their expertise on the birthplace of tea.
Our farmers use traditional processing. Even if a production method is more time-consuming, making cleaner, better-tasting tea is the sine qua non of our enterprise. There are three primary criteria they judge tea on: (1) is it comfortable to drink (even in high quantities) – namely, is it healthy? (2) Is the process used to make it sustainable – i.e. good for the environment? And (3) how does it smell, taste and feel?
As well as skills, our masters also brought with them Taiwanese plants. After centuries of selective breeding, Taiwanese plants are incredible for oolong and each type (varietal) is distinctive. Along with terroir and processing, the the varietal used affects the flavour and fragrance of the finished tea. Our farmers are committed to ensuring genetic strength of our tea plants. The picked the best they could find of each varietal and if a plant is struggling, they don’t prop it up – weaker trees are allowed to die (as disheartening as that can be).
Producing tea is a science and an art. Like cooking, the ingredients and the chef make the dish. Tea people know when they have found something truly special. The elements that have come together to make Living Leaf Tea are something special and we feel blessed to be able to share this tea with you.