Wild Formosa Assam
Our Wild Formosa Assam came about by way of historical happenstance. In 1926, occupying Japanese troops introduced the first Burmese Assam cultivars to Taiwan with the hope of fostering a black tea industry on the island. Select groves were planted in locations that closely mimicked the terroir of the Assam region of India. One such grove was located in southern Taiwan, near Kaoshiung.
With the end of Japanese colonial rule of Taiwan in 1945, and the departure of the Japanese, the grove was forgotten. What remains today are a scant few surviving trees, all nearly eighty years old, reaching heights of about 10 feet.
Each winter and spring, about 100 catties of fresh leaves are hand-picked by the local people who tend to the grove. The leaves are laid out and sun withered, bruised in a woven bamboo drum before being oxidized up to approximately 20%. The leaves are then just as meticulously hand-rolled before receiving almost 9 rounds of light charcoal roasting. The final result of these efforts is 20 catties of finished tea. This newly acquired batch is a winter crop, picked at the end of 2011. Winter harvesting produces slightly larger leaves, and a tea that is milder than its spring counterpart.
We have never tasted a tea with such a unique flavor profile. The rounds of low charcoal roasting intensifies the sweetness of the tea, giving it a character that mimicks sugarcane, with a hint of the type of florals one usually associates with green pu-erhs and Indian black teas.