black&white #32: Our new Pouchong, fresh and creamy
2 min steep
A few weeks ago, our Operations Director Alice wrote about the particularly hectic time of the year for tea businesses known as the Spring tea-buying season – and that some teas like Pouchong are in such high demand that when the samples arrive, we have to drop everything, taste them straight away and send back our selections to avoid missing out on the best teas.
Well, last week was that week. On Monday, we spent the day tasting six different batches of high grade Pouchong from Taiwan. The quality was truly exceptional this year. Because the teas we source are handmade and not blended for homogenous flavour (in other words, they’re truly artisan), the quality and flavour can vary from harvest to harvest. It’s dependent on various climatic factors, including temperature, humidity and rainfall. This year the conditions were ideal, making it a standout year for Pouchong.
Tasting Pouchong in PingLin.
The batch we chose that really impressed us was No: F421 from our old friends the Feng family who we’ve sourced from for several years. Alongside the floralness you’d expect from a Pouchong of that quality, it had a gorgeously soft and creamy mouthfeel, and a particularly smooth, fresh flavour. Only processed by the Feng family on the 21st April of this year, the batch is from one of the farm’s newest tea fields, which was planted just 5 years ago. This Spring the total yield for the new field was around 200kg, with each batch weighing just 15-30kg. It’s the true definition of small-batch.
The farm itself – called the Shiang Tai Tea Garden – is in PingLin in the north east of Taiwan, one of Taiwan's oldest growing regions. The soil in the area is a bright burnt orange colour due to its high sand and clay content and the top layer of soil is incredibly moist – which means farmer Feng never needs to water the tea bushes. The tea fields are also at a relatively low altitude and gently sloped, to provide drainage and prevent water logging in the irriguous soil.
Mr Feng, the grower of our superb Pouchong.
Shiang Tai Tea Garden was founded in 1921 and has been in the Feng family ever since. Mr Feng and his two sons handle all the tea processing in their small unit just outside the village. They do, however, get pickers in to help during harvests – as is usually the way in Taiwanese tea farms. They also run a traditional tea shop on the main street of PingLin. As it’s just an hour’s drive from New Taipei City, many dedicated customers come for a day trip to buy their favourite Feng family teas.
When will you get to taste some of this superb Feng family Pouchong? We should have our hands on it in July and we’ll let you know as soon as it is up on our site.