Its springtime here at Imperial Tea Garden and the smoke from fires can be seen along the country side. It reminds me of a little known tea from Taiwan's Nantou County. A smooth and deep flavorful cup of black tea with mild hints of a pine and oak fire.
It has been said that “The beauty of Taiwan tea resides in the hard working spirit of past generations to pioneer the golden age of Taiwan tea.” Truer words regarding this island nation‟s tea industry could not have been spoken. Through all of Taiwan‟s political ups and downs during the past couple of centuries, the art and business of tea has prevailed producing some of the world‟s finest cups. Today, Taiwan is often associated with semi-fermented Oolongs, however, the industry actually began with the development of black tea - teas such as this outstanding Lapsang Souchong
. Local teas originated from two varieties of wild growing plants, their primary difference being the color of their sprouts. This tea, known as Taiwan Mountain tea had either greenish tending light purple sprouts or red tending fuchsia sprouts. Initially it was thought that neither of these teas were commercially viable. That all changed however when improvements were
made to a varietal sub - categorized as Taiwan Tea No. 18 making it suitable for black tea production. It is our belief, and from notable tea masters, that due to the exceptional appearance of the leaf, Kangaroo Lapsang is probably produced from plants stemming from the original Tea No. 18 varietal.
Production begins by withering freshly picked tea over pine and oak fires, pan-firing, and then rolling the leaf by hand. Once rolled, leaves are pressed into wooden barrels, covered with cloth, and allowed to ferment. Next, the leaves are re-rolled into tight strips and placed in bamboo baskets, which are hung over burning pine boughs. As they dry, the leaves further develop their rich smoky flavor. Because of the quality of the fresh leaf used to produce Kangaroo Lapsang, the resulting tea is one of the worlds finest. The flavor is robust, deep, and highly aromatic, filling the mouth with distinctive smoky pine notes.
As for the odd name, the true origins have been lost to the mists of time. Although legend has it that a ship carrying Kangaroos to the Boston Zoo from Australia almost 200 years ago capsized off the coast of Taiwan, then known as Formosa. The ancient stories maintain that the kangaroos lived in peace among the tea plants for many years!
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