Caopingtou Natural Farming Buddha Hand "Hand of Unknown" Oolong Tea - Spring 2022
After years of searching for an organic plantation growing the Buddha Hand varietal, we finally encountered the opportunity to produce this ancient, legendary tea. Buddha Hand could be considered as one of the most ancient varietals grown in Taiwan, just like Wu Yi and Bairuixiang. Due to the tea market's twisted environment, this distinctive varietal has nearly gone extinct in Taiwan. We never thought we would have the chance to process it in our journey of tea, that is until now.
Surprisingly, the material was not from a stranger, but Mr. Chang from Yilan who has provided us the material used to make legendary teas such as "Pacific Buddha" and "Pacific Nectar." The Changs decided to grow this ultra rare varietal in their hometown, Caopintou, where we produced our "Fog Dragon" black tea before. This is a place commonly known for its "Yushan Tea."
Yushan is one of Taiwan's most sacred mountains. For Taiwanese, it is comparable to Mount Fuji in Japan. The elevation of its peak is 3,952 meters high (12,965 feet), which may make you think would create excellent tea at such an elevation. Unfortunately, no tea can survive at such elevations (as far as we know). This tea is actually grown at the base of Yushan at around an elevation of 1200 meters. Anyone who has ever climbed Yushan before will know that Caopintou is a place you will pass by before reaching the Yushan trailhead. Naturally, when marketing a new tea, it is inevitable to use a famous name to go with it. The label of "Yushan tea" because of the trending popularity of high mountain jade oolong starting back in the 1980s. The so-called Yushan tea region eventually failed to take advantage of it unique terroir to develop its own character and stand out in the red ocean of jade oolongs. Thus, the Yushan tea region produces very little tea nowadays, with most of its tea trees abandoned in the fields.
Despite most of the soil still recovering from the conventional farming practices (i.e. pesticide and chemical fertilizer) used before, the land that grows this Buddha Hand is clean, to say the least, and carries a clear character of its own. As this is our first time working with this varietal, a lot of our presumptions were proved wrong about it. First of all, it was not as difficult to process as we had predicted. Secondly, the way it interacts with the body after drinking was completely different from our expectation: we were expecting it to be similar to a Wu Yi varietal, yet it behaves more like a Tie Guanyin, but in the reversed direction. Finally, the taste itself was more delicate than we had anticipated.
If all of the Buddha Hand you tried before was roasted heavily, this one will change your perception as well with its relatively light roast. We did this in order to preserve a clear impression of the processing technique. Overall, this Buddha Hand opens a new possibility along with its brother tea Tie Guanyin that is grown next to it. We must again pay great respect to Mr. Chang - the man who has the courage and curiosity to preserve this legendary tea on Formosa.
Harvest: Spring 2022 / 春 貳零貳貳
Varietal: Buddha Hand / 佛手
Elevation: 1280 M / 壹仟貳佰捌拾 公尺
Region: Caopingtou / 草坪頭
Fermentation Level: 35% / 分之 卅伍
Roast Level: 2 / 貳 分
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