Plucking Season: Spring
Alishan is a range of 18 mountains located in central Taiwan. The region is famous for its dense cloud cover and beautiful peaks. Ancient stands of cypress and brilliant cherry trees are inhabited by a plethora of birds and wildlife.
Alishan is one of Taiwan’s best known tea growing regions and famous for its Gao Shan Cha “high mountain tea”. Due to its elevation and cooler climate, the leaf grows slower attaining a higher concentration of sap and essential oils which contribute to the tea’s flavor and aroma.
This is a roasted Alishan, giving a warm, toasty depth to the floral, honey-like aroma and flavor.
In making Alishan oolong only the newly sprouted leaves are plucked. They are then withered in the sun (weather permitting) or indoors on special bamboo trays for a few hours to reduce moisture.
Once a suitable suppleness is achieved in the leaves, traditional rolling techniques (which include wrapping the leaves in cloth and binding it tightly into ball shape) are applied in conjunction with light roasting in a rotating tunnel roaster.
Successive re-rolling and re-roastings are done to achieve the optimum shape and flavor. A final roast is given to complete the processing.
Apart from elevation, season and age of the plants, oolongs can be evaluated by the quality of leaf and the processing art. The leaves should be tightly rolled and should not crumble with gentle pressure (crumbled leaf is a sign of over-roasting or stale leaf).
Water Temp: 190°F (88°C)
Quality of Water: Best with Spring Water
Quantity of Leaf: 1 tsp per 8oz water
Steep Time: 3-4 minutes
Oolong teas can be brewed in a variety of styles.
For daily drinking, a smaller amount of leaf with a longer steeping time gives a rewarding cup with little effort. This tea’s tightly rolled leaf requires fairly hot water despite its lower oxidation.
We recommend a temperature of 180 to 200 F to bring out its full and unique aroma. Steeping 1 teaspoon of leaf per 8 ounces of water for 3 to 4 minutes will typically yield 2 to 3 satisfying infusions, although some oolongs will provide more.
Another common method would be to enjoy the tea ‘Chinese style.‘ Merely place a few leaves at the bottom of a cup or glass, add hot water, and cover.
After a couple minutes or so the leaf will unfurl and sink to the bottom of the vessel allowing you to drink from the top. When the water is down to just over the leaves, simply add more water. This style provides many infusions for a small amount of leaf.
Of course, the most famous way to drink oolong tea is Gongfu style. (Gongfu is the Chinese term we derive ‘Kung Fu’ from. It means to do something skillfully.) Though it takes many years to perfect the true Gongfu tea ceremony, a simplified version can be practiced at home.