Taiwan produces 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. Above is a sunrise snap taken from where we slept out nearby our source of Alishan High Mountain Oolong Tea — our consistently best selling selection.
Eco-Cha's top 5 best selling teas of 2021:
- Alishan High Mountain Oolong Tea
- Alishan High Mountain Jin Xuan Oolong Tea
- Bi Luo Chun Green Tea
- Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Oolong Tea
- Li Shan High Mountain Oolong Tea
Taiwan High Mountain Teas on Top
Taiwan is most famous for its High Mountain Oolong Tea, although there are many other specialty teas that are unique to this island's tea culture and industry. Another factor to be acknowledged about our best sellers is that we procure and promote our High Mountain Oolong Teas on a seasonal basis. So there are new arrivals three or four times a year to announce. In effect, these announcements alone warrant more attention to these teas than other teas that are less distinguished by seasonal harvests. In the last few years, we've been able to offer summer and/or fall harvests along with the more prized spring and winter harvests of our High Mountain Oolong Teas.
This allows us to experience the differences among seasonal harvests from the same source. It's very much like fine wine in this respect. Each harvest has its own story involving weather patterns during the growing season, conditions at the time of harvest and processing, etc. It also allows us to offer produce from the same farm, same craftsman, but from the "in between" seasons where the market value is much lower. Given the unpredictability of seasonal weather brought on by climate change, it's no longer a given that spring and winter crops are much higher quality. So, now more than ever, it's worth checking out the summer/fall harvests to see what they offer and how they compare spring and winter crops.
1. Alishan High Mountain Oolong Tea
Our best seller in 2021 was Alishan High Mountain Oolong Tea. Overall, the name Alishan is most renowned when it comes to specialty Taiwan Tea. It's not the most prestigious, but it is the most well-known — especially on the international market. It meets all the basic qualifications of a quality High Mountain Oolong, and it is the most reasonably priced. Alishan High Mountain Oolong is also the most accessible in terms of flavor profile. It is the southernmost High Mountain Tea growing region, with a warmer and sunnier climate. This makes for a flavorful, satisfying brew at a slightly cheaper price range.
2. Alishan High Mountain Jin Xuan Oolong Tea
Alishan High Mountain Jin Xuan Oolong Tea is a close second on our list of best sellers. Jin Xuan is the name given to Taiwan's most popular hybrid cultivar, also known as Tai Cha #12, and Milky Oolong — due to its buttery, creamy qualities. This may be the most popular of all Taiwan teas on the international market. It's a very accessible flavor profile that can be appreciated by newbies and tea veterans alike! We normally procure both of these selections from the same source. The Alishan tea growing region produces the best quality Jin Xuan Oolong Tea in Taiwan. Grown at slightly lower elevations than its Qing Xin Oolong cousin, it thrives in this climate. These growing conditions, combined with some of the most experienced tea producers on the island arguably offer the best produce for the price.
3. Bi Luo Chun Green Tea
Bi Luo Chun Green Tea is a prominent name in the history of Chinese Tea. It was transplanted to Taiwan in the 19th century, and had a revival in the 1980's. It has continued to maintain a solid niche in the specialty tea industry in Taiwan. The modern processing methods of the Taiwanese version of Bi Luo Chun differ from the original Chinese tradition in that most Bi Luo Chun makers in the Sanxia District of Taipei allow their leaves to wither overnight. This results in a mellower, yet more substantial composition in the brewed tea. We find it to be a significant improvement on the super green original version.
Above is the selfie we took on our visit to the factory last February. Now officially Grandpa status, this factory owner was a young professional when the revival of the local tea tradition happened some 40 years ago. He still works daily in the factory!
Our earliest spring harvest last year stepped up our game in terms of sourcing the best quality Bi Luo Chun we've come across. We literally nagged our source as the beginning of the harvest season approached in February 2021, and showed up in the first several days of harvest. It was a learning experience for us. We had never known about this micro-culture that is specific to Bi Luo Chun tea production. We look forward to the next earliest spring batch in 2022!
4. Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Oolong Tea
Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Oolong Tea is the name that represents our earliest impressions of Taiwan Tea and was our fourth best seller in 2021. Even before our initial visit to Lugu in 1993, we had begun drinking this tea a couple of years prior. It continues to be our all time favorite High Mountain Tea. The micro-climate of this high elevation tea growing region, combined with the densest population of traditional Oolong tea masters makes it our favorite name in tea.
The Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Tea growing region is our most familiar stomping ground. We visited our first mountain tea factory here in 1995. This is where our connection to the local tea industry began. Over the decades, we have slowly comprehended the combination of factors that make this region so valuable. In addition to the tea making tradition that predated the development of this high elevation tea growing region, it is the micro-climate that is based on the geography of the high mountain valleys. These deep narrow valleys get sufficient sunlight, but not too much, and they are also facing in the direction that allows daily fog rising from the valley floor to be pushed directly up the mountainside to the tea gardens above, providing significant diurnal temperature variations beginning at 1300m. This combination of location and micro-geography are superior among tea growing regions on Taiwan.
5. Li Shan High Mountain Oolong Tea
Li Shan High Mountain Oolong Tea fills out our top 5 best sellers list for 2021. Li Shan is the most prestigious place name for Taiwan High Mountain Oolong Tea. The Li Shan tea growing region (which includes Da Yu Ling) is significantly further north from Alishan and Shan Lin Xi, as well as higher elevations. Where Shan Lin Xi peaks at about 2000m, Lishan reaches beyond 2500m up to 3000m. Similar to the directional positioning of the ideal terroirs in Shan Lin Xi, many tea gardens in the Li Shan region are facing northeast, and get direct exposure to the "northeasterlies" — wind patterns that push fog up the valleys and result in significant daily temperature variations. The farm that we source our Li Shan High Mountain Oolong tea from is relatively lower elevation (2000m), but it is situated directly above a large reservoir, which provides its own supply of daily fog. We have concluded that this terroir is superior to many farms further up the ridge that are facing the other direction. It comes down to the plot of land that the tea grows on, which direction it's facing, along with farm management, and processing methods, to put it most succinctly!
There are many influencing factors to which teas sold the most during a given year. Eco-Cha has roughly 25 tea selections on its menu that we have consciously chosen to represent a tea type, category, price range, flavor profile, local cuture, etc. They are all "best sellers" in our eyes!
So we encourage our supporters to read up on selections you haven't tried. Send us any questions or feedback you have about what we offer. We really appreciate your input! And finally, THANK YOU for your support and appreciation. We obviously would not be here, doing what we do without it!
LET US KNOW!
Please post any questions or comments you may have in the comments section below!
If you enjoyed this post and would like to hear more about the specialty tea industry here in Taiwan, follow us on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram and please subscribe to our newsletter. Subscribe now and get $5 off your first order!