Alishan oolong tea
Ali Shan tea is named after the mountainous region of Taiwan that it is grown. The tea is grown at high altitudes (between 1000 and 2500 meters) and the region is home to several tea producing estates each at different altitudes that affects the flavor of the tea. The wood harvested from the area is valued for its use in ancestral funeral tablets due to, some say, the spirit of the mountain being present in the trees that grow there. The same could be said of the teas produced on the Ali mountains. The constant fog, moisture and cooler temperatures are perfect for capturing the unique flavor and floral/fruity aromas which captures the spirit of the region.
One local legend states that a farmer had left his tea garden unattended and it was attacked by a swarm of green flies. The flies attacked the tea leaves changing the ravaged leaves from green to yellow. The farmer processed the leaves hoping that the resulting tea would not be affected. The tea produced from the bitten leaves had a strong fruity flavor. When European tea merchants noticed this tea they fell in love with it and called it Formosa “Beautiful” Tea.
I expected from the Ali Shan the same appearance as most of the oolongs I have sampled: a copper-color and moderately oxidized leaf but these are only slightly oxidized and minimally roasted (looking and smelling more like a Green Tea). This was new to me since most of the oolongs I have sampled have been closer to black teas. In fact, upon opening the tin I thought momentarily that a green was incorrectly packaged in its place.
The tea leaves were tightly rolled small balls with long stalks that unfurled when steeping. Actually quite a cool spectacle to watch the leaves expand with the result resembling a batch of floating seaweed. The color is bright yellow to yellowish-green and the aroma was fruity and floral but not overpowering. I enjoyed the light and delicate taste. Not too grassy (even after multiple infusions) and it was followed by a sweet aftertaste. I have enjoyed my small batch of this tea for weeks now and often late into the night while finishing up writing or reading. The fact that the taste is not astringent even after multiple infusions makes this a perfect late-night tea for the night-hawks among us.
I would like to thank Adagio Teas for the supply of samplers to continue my reviews. This Ali Shan tea came from them.
Some more info from the Ali Shan National Scenic Area.