Shan Cha Wild Yu-Chi Tea Information
Farming Methods: Natural, hand-picked, low pesticide
Like some the other mystical tea regions of the world such as Yunnan, China known for its Pu-erh tea, or the Assam region of India known for its famous malty black teas, Taiwan also has its own indigenous wild tea plant known as Shan Cha (mountain tea).
Virtually unknown in the West, Shan Cha’s presence and use as an infused drink was first recorded in Chinese writings dating back to the 17th century (1697). Its botanical characteristics are somewhat close to the Assamica plant with its long leaves, but distinct with unique adventitious shoots arising from its underground roots. It is a shrub that prefers a wild, mountainous habitat with altitudes ranging between 1,000m to 1,500m. Four distinct protected areas have been put in place in central, south and eastern Taiwan for the preservation of this National treasure which is revered as the father plant to some of the most unique and distinctive tea hybrids of Taiwan. For example, it is from this unique wild strain that the Taiwan Research and Experiment Station (TRES) have successfully developed the now famous TRES-# 18 Red Jade black tea which has fueled a significant black tea revival in Taiwan since the turn of this new century.
Because of its “wild” characteristics and limited supply it is rarely marketed commercially. It is a plant that doesn’t render the same taste or peculiarities if cultivated in a more systematic way therefore it is quite rare. This particular tea we have available is made from leaves that are picked from wild trees that are found randomly in the surrounding mountains of Yu-chi Township. To do so, the tea master gets up at 4 o’clock in the morning during the picking season of July and August to roam the mountains with local aboriginal pickers looking for the wild tea. The teas trees located in altitudes of 1,000m and higher are considered to have the best taste characteristics.
Similarly to Oriental Beauty and Gui Fei Oolong, Shan Cha is also an insect-bitten style tea that has a small leaf hopper nibble the leaves prior to harvesting, which initiates the oxidation process and leaves the distinctive and pleasant honey aroma & taste that is characteristic with these teas.
Shan Cha is a gentle “easy drinking” black tea with a very distinctive and unique in taste. There’s nothing bold or brash about this tea and it is not on the same arena as the powerful Assams. It is a subtle charming tea, yet extremely satisfying and carries a surprising stamina and suppleness. The taster will be greeted with a pleasant aroma of baked oats with buttered sweetness and a discreet floral note of wild rose will charm the nose. The liqueur is very smooth with a light, refreshing tartness. The pleasant taste is well rounded with evocations of pastries and baked sweets with fruit notes similar to Japanese white peaches. A wonderfully pleasant experience!