What's Special About Taiwan High Mountain Tea?

May 06, 2020

Wonder what makes Taiwan high mountain tea special? Find out as we take you behind the scenes in our latest sourcing trip for Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Oolong!

Shan Lin Xi Oolong Tea harvest

High Mountain Harvest

Both the Alishan and Shan Lin Xi high mountain tea growing regions in Taiwan have experienced a good spring this year in terms of both the growing season, and the weather conditions during harvest. After a couple of years of erratic weather patterns, this has been a particularly rewarding spring season in Taiwan so far. The remaining crops to be harvested at higher elevations were more or less affected by a single night of frost, but still look promising in terms of quality, if not quantity!

The batch of Shan Lin Xi spring tea we just procured is the same day's harvest that we watched being processed, and the photos posted here are snapshots from that night we spent in the factory.

Removing tea leaves from bamboo tumbler
Taking tea out of the tumbler after withering

Most of the tea harvested from this farm is processed in preparation for being roasted and entered into the Lugu Farmers' Association Dong Ding Oolong Tea Competition. This is the largest and most prestigious Oolong Tea competition in the world, and the competition players take it very seriously!

Weighing out tea leaves for processing
Leaves being weighed after the second/final tumbling, in preparation for tumble heating/kill green. Tumbling revives circulation in the leaves, making them pert.

Location is Key

On the day we visited our source to taste and choose his spring batches of tea, he explained to us how the micro-climate of his farm is what gives Shan Lin Xi Tea its special flavor. It is the combination of elevation and geographic positioning that provide ideal growing conditions for producing a tea with a distinctive high alpine forest character. The direction these steep mountain valleys face is generally northeast, which limits over exposure to direct sun. It also allows for wind patterns to circulate up through these valleys, resulting in daily afternoon fog following a few hours of late morning sun. These are the conditions that produce a flavor profile that is noticeably distinguished from other high elevation tea growing regions in Taiwan.

Tea leaves going into the dryerTea leaves going into the dryer

Skilled Tea Makers

Our friend who manages the farm is only interested in processing his share of the fresh produce as High Mountain Tea, meaning that the leaves are considerably less oxidized than leaves that will be prepared for the local competition. However, the craftsmen who are curing these leaves are considerably more professional, and well — more skilled than the general High Mountain Tea producers in Taiwan. This is what makes our source both more special and more sustainable — since reaping the best quality and value from ones resources is a fundamental premise of sustainable practice.

Prepping high mountain tea leaves for rolling and dryingPrepping the tea leaves for rolling and drying

Proper Curing is Key

In making High Mountain Tea, the most important part of curing the leaves is the slow and steady depletion of moisture from the leaves, which results in a delicate, but uniform degree of oxidation. This is the crux of where the distinctive flavor profile and substantial, yet delicately complex character come from. Yes, the leaves need to be fixed properly in the "kill green" phase, and then rolled and dried properly. But it is the initial stages of solar withering followed by indoor withering and shuffling that are most pivotal in producing the best quality Oolong Tea! The video below shows this process of withering and shuffling.

The Final Tea

The final tea from this sourcing trip is now available in our store. Get some Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Oolong spring tea for yourself and see how it tastes! Check out our tasting video below to learn more about the intricacies of this tea!

Let Us Know!

If you liked this article, please leave a comment in the comments section below or leave any questions you may have as well.

Subscribe!

If you found this post useful and would like to hear more about the specialty tea industry here in Taiwan, follow us on YouTubeFacebook, and Instagram and please subscribe to our newsletter. Subscribe now and get $5 off your first order!





Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in News

Pingling Qin Xin Black Tea dried leaves
Pinglin Qin Xin Black Tea Tasting Notes | Eco-Cha Tea Club

July 15, 2020

Batch #56 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a Pinglin Qing Xin Black Tea — summer 2019 harvest, from the same source as last month's edition of award winning Wenshan Baozhong Tea. This is the first batch of Black Tea we have sourced from the Pinglin region in northern Taiwan, and it is further supporting evidence of the fact that high quality tea can be made from low to mid-elevation farms. We were lucky to have sourced the remainder of two consecutive days of last summer's harvest that were combined to provide just enough to be shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club! Black Tea reaches it peak of quality after at least one year of aging.

View full article →

Wall of tea competition awards
Pinglin Qin Xin Black Tea | Eco-Cha Tea Club

July 12, 2020

Batch #56 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a Black Tea made from the Qing Xin cultivar, grown in the Pinglin tea growing region in northern Taiwan. This Black Tea is made by the same artisan tea maker who made the top 5% award-winning Baozhong Tea we offered as Batch #55 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club. His spring and winter crops are made into Wenshan Baozhong tea, for which his family has a legacy, and his summer crops are made into high-grade Black Tea.

View full article →

Alishan high mountain jin xuan oolong tea farm
Alishan High Mountain Jin Xuan Oolong Summer 2020: Buttered Love

June 21, 2020

This batch of Alishan High Mountain Jin Xuan Oolong summer 2020 harvest has a very pronounced buttery character. Starting with the leaves put into the pre-heated tea judging cup, they exuded a pronounced buttered toast/popcorn aroma. But the flavor profile is replete with an uncanny buttered popcorn note, it's almost unbelievable! How can tea leaves do this?! It's not only buttered popcorn either! There are distinct floral and vegetal notes that balance out the incredulous and delicious buttered popcorn flavor. OK, enough repetitive description! Click here to get your share.

View full article →