We have two versions of one of our all-time favorite Taiwanese oolongs, Nostalgia: a lighter roast and a heavier roast. Even the light roast is “traditional” compared to most modern Taiwanese oolong tea, which is very green these days. Both teas are chemical-free and grown on high-altitude farms on Lishan in central Taiwan. If you want something more floral, choose the light roast, and if you are looking for a deeper and darker cup choose the darker roast.
Tsai Ming Xun doesn’t come from generations of tea processing, but he has started a legacy of his own. He was born in 1963 in Zhiayi, Taiwan. At a very young age, he fell in love with all things tea, teaware and antiques, saying “I only loved the household items: the things that have really and truly been used.” He opened a teahouse in 1985, at the age of twenty-two. He had gone down to Tainan for school and so chose that for the location of his tea house. In those days, tea and all things cultural were booming and the teahouse thrived. Back in the day, shopkeepers roasted their own tea, which is now a dying tradition. Mr. Tsai is continuing this tradition of buying raw material from the farm and focusing his time on mastering the roast.
Mr. Tsai doesn’t call his tea production “traditional,” though he doesn’t mind the term. He says that he thinks his tea is a synthesis of modern and traditional since tea lovers and producers nowadays have a background in scientific research that traditional farmers didn’t, and therefore understand the chemistry and soil in ways that are very modern. He hopes to combine modern understanding with traditional skills, in other words.
Nostalgia was dried and roasted by Mr. Tsai quite skillfully, indeed. The higher oxidation and roast bring out a nutty, apricot flavor that is divine. They say that each stage in the tea processing should enhance the tea without leaving a trace of itself, so the roasting should not leave a roasty flavor in other words. This tea is roasted superbly, with a strong and bright aftertaste that lingers in the mouth for many minutes after you swallow. We find the energy of Nostalgia to be uplifting, gently and calming, even though it is quite yang.