Taiwan High Mountain Oolong Teas are typically harvested 3 or 4 times a year. Between the most popular spring and winter harvests, there are usually summer and/or fall crops. In recent years, we've been dedicated to sourcing these "in between" harvests as much as possible. We do this for two reasons.
Our summer 2022 batch of Alishan High Mountain Jin Xuan Oolong is an exemplary representative of this category of Taiwan Tea! It is lightly oxidized, offering pronounced milky/buttery notes which the Jin Xuan cultivar is famous for. Given the weather patterns through the early spring growing season compared with the late spring growing season — the second flush offers a more classic Alishan Jin Xuan flavor profile.
Spring Tea is the most popular among Taiwan's High Mountain Tea fans. Generally speaking, spring harvest offers the most aromatic and fresh flavor profile. In the end, however, each batch of tea has its own unique character. So we are going to take this opportunity to taste all 3 of our spring High Mountain Oolong Teas simultaneously, and while doing so, offer some background information about each growing region and how they differ from each other.
Taiwan many kinds of tea but have you ever wondered what's the most popular? Well, we've compiled an overview of our top 5 best selling Taiwan Teas of 2021 to offer some perspective on the popular names in Taiwan Tea.
We taste tested our three new batches of winter High Mountain Oolong Tea -- Shan Lin Xi, Alishan, and Li Shan. We can see the difference in the oxidation levels of the tea leaves in the coloration of the brewed tea. We can see a higher degree of oxidation in the Shan Lin Xi and less oxidation as we move to the Li Shan.
We just sourced our winter batches of Alishan High Mountain Oolong and Alishan High Mountain Jin Xuan Oolong, and they are on the shelf now! We decided to do a side by side tasting of these two winter teas to experience how they differ from each other — particularly the two batches that we just procured. We've gradually realized how much more significantly oxidized winter crops of High Mountain Oolong are in recent years compared with decades ago. Especially from our sources of Alishan and Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Tea. There are two main reasons for this.
Taiwan is famous for High Mountain Oolong Teas, teas grown above 1000m elevation. The island actually has a number of High Mountain Tea regions, but only a few stand out as being world-renowned. Here we provide a brief overview of the top-4 Taiwan High Mountain Tea areas.
Spring is classically the best quality stock of any given year. So it is no surprise at all that it is more flavorful than the summer crop. This is as it should be, given that it costs almost twice as much. So in the end, the value of summer tea wins vs. its cost. It is a prime quality High Mountain Tea from a source we have come to rely on almost solely for our Alishan High Mountain Oolong. And the price is hard to beat. So if you are looking for an everyday drinker that is really quite good quality, this batch is for you!
This year's second crop of Alishan High Mountain Jin Xuan Oolong began to be harvested last week, before rains that lasted several days. Then resumed earlier this week. We first visited our primary source of Alishan High Mountain Tea to taste their first two days of summer harvest.
The photo above shows new leaf growth at the optimal growth stage for harvest, particularly given this year's drought conditions. Normally, the leaves would be a bit larger. But the most essential factor is that there is sufficient new leaf growth that is still in its vibrant growth stage. This is most obviously indicated by pert V-shape contour of the newest growth. The leaves lower down on the newly sprouted branches will eventually flatten out, and settle into their more "permanent" vegetation stage. It's the new, vibrant leaves that are mature enough to have substance, but tender enough to be optimal raw material for premium Alishan High Mountain Oolong Tea.
We took this photo last spring when we slept out at this spot in order to catch the early morning harvest. It gives you a sense of the environment and the extent of farm development in this area of the Alishan High Mountain Tea producing region. It is one of the reasons we've chosen this farm as our source. This area was already developed as a rural farming community before the onset of modern tea production in Taiwan. The family farms were simply repurposed to grow tea when High Mountain Tea became popular. So, the development of tea production in this area has had less environmental impact than most other High Mountain Tea producing regions in Taiwan.