Tea, muthaf*cka! Do you drink it? ~ Ali Shan

Alishan oolong tea

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. 


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11 thoughts on “Tea, muthaf*cka! Do you drink it? ~ Ali Shan

  1. “This is the maddest teahead city I’ve ever seen, a vast plaza where at dusk when it’s cool all sorts of acrobats, fortune tellers, snake charmers and shade drum groups gather circles of crowds and collect coins — also a huge labyrinth market with alleys covered by bamboo against sunlight, selling Aladdin lamps and clothes… Also everybody sleeps with everybody.”
    ~Allen Ginsberg

  2. A compeltely unrelated note, I subscribe to your blog via email, but I didn’t recieve an email notification for this post or the Tibet/China earthquake one.

    • Thanks for letting me know, Adam. It seems that WordPress is booting some subscribers off of the list. Feel free to subscribe again if the option is open on the site.

    • I just checked and you are still listed. It may be that wordpress is wimply blinded by the shear awesomeness of this blog and is slowed down a tad.

  3. Years ago I was taking a bus up to Ali Shan, and high in the mountains, I saw several farms that looked like they were growing potatoes. It looked like such an impoverished life that I raised a thought for their well-being. Later I realized that those were tea plants, not potatoes! Lol! Those farmers were doing much better than I thought they were!

    • Interesting that you mentioned that! I heard from another tea blogger that the area is actually quite loud with tour-busses and loudspeakers.

      I picture the Napa valley of tea producers.

      Cheers and thanks for commenting!


  4. Hi,

    mmmmhh, just reading this post got my mouth watering! I’ve had nothing but green tea (and water of course) for the last five or six months… (don’t ask!) … but I think it’s time to hit some good oolong again! LOL!

    (By the way… please delete Marcus’ Journal from your blogroll as it’s been deleted for months now! Replaced by a new group blog – with some authors you might recognise! LOL!)

    All the best,


    • Hey Marcus! Good to see you back!

      I updated the link (I honestly forget that I have a list of links on this page, prefering my blog-roll).

      I have been enjoying my explorations into tea lately. So much fun to try new things.

      I see that your fellow group-bloggers visited as well.



  5. It’s been 10 or 15 years since I was at Ali Shan, but I remember it being kind of quiet and laid back. No tour buses with speakers at all. Of course, that was January. It was overcast most of the time, but with the clouds and the forests absolutely beautiful.

    I was given some Iron Kwan-yin from China a while back, and that was the absolute best green tea I’ve ever had. It had a much richer, “thicker” flavor than most green teas.

    A funny thing is that I loved green tea when I was in the US, but after coming to Korea, I’ve been almost exclusively a coffee drinker. A good Russian friend of mine says the same thing, when he’s in Russia, he drinks huge quantities of black tea, but somehow when he comes to Korea, he loses interest in tea, and goes for coffee. The best guess we’ve heard is that it has something to do with the energy of the land, but really no solid idea why.

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