Monday, July 21, 2014

Green Terrace Teas, Ali Shan High Mountain Oolong

Vacuum Sealed Sample
Green Terrace Teas Description:
Ali Shan is one of Taiwan’s most famous tea growing areas due to its high elevation and rich soil.  The cool and moist climate allows the tea leaves to grow more slowly, developing a higher level of complexity and flavor.  Our premium grade Ali Shan High Mountain Tea, or “gao shan cha” in Chinese, is grown at elevations of 1,300 meters (4,265 ft) and above.  It has a sweet buttery taste with a creamy body and mild floral undertones.  The tea becomes more vegetal after a few steepings, bringing a pleasant variation of tastes among each infusion.  Overall, this is an exquisite and savory oolong that can be enjoyed at any time of day.

Origin:  Alishan, Chiayi County, Taiwan

Harvest:  Spring 2014

Sample provided by Green Terrace Teas

My Review:
Best laid plans and all aside, my intention was to review this one immediately after sipping the Li Shan for more of a side by side comparison. Instead sandwiched between the two oolongs three days have passed. Two of which were filled with all day shopping sprees, and Sunday was church and family. Normally I would complain about the shopping, but this time we were looking for patio furniture and a new grill, so I kind of got into it. Who am I kidding, it was totally my idea!

Dry Leaf
So, back to tea. I have had both Li Shan and Ali Shan high mountain teas before, but never together. I wasn't sure if I could tell them apart. So I love that I have this opportunity to sample them both this close together. The samples come in identical vacuum sealed packaging. It is a good thing they are clearly labeled.

The open 10 g bag reveals very little of what is to come, only faint scent traces that smell like... light green oolong.  Using my bamboo scoop, I examined the pellets. Again, the two teas appear very similar. The leaves are rolled tightly with the stem exposed.

Steeping Leaves
My intention was to steep both the same way to keep the playing floor even. So once again the mighty crystal teapot sees action. The leaf in the pot, I added 190 F water and steeped 1 1/2 minutes for the first cup.

At this point, I realized I am brewing more tea than would fit in the 5 oz cup that I used last time. I quickly had to shift gears and pull out my clear glass mug.

I can only hope I haven't thrown off the comparison greatly.

The result is a very light manila colored liquor that is bright and clear. The leaf has largely relaxed, but not nearly as much as the Li Shan first cup. The wet leaf has a marine or seaweed aroma.

A strainer was used when pouring to catch the leaf that hasn't fully unfurled. Only one leaf escaped through the narrow spout of the teapot.

The tea in the mug turned slightly more honey colored as I waited for it to cool enough for me to start sipping.
High Mountain Oolong

The sip is immediately different from the Li Shan. While both are creamy, the Li Shan tasted like corn to me. This one has a floral bite or tingle to it that dances towards orchid with slight hints similar to lavender. None of the floral elements are overpowering.

This is a beautiful cup.

As it cools, a more typical green oolong taste is drawn out and mingles with the previous more unique floral tastes. There is also a nice cooling sensation that is highlighted between sips.

Below I have a picture of the wet leaf for those who like a better idea what they are getting. The leaf is already quite bulky and it hasn't even fully relaxed yet. I did not dig through the pile, however I did not notice and small broken pieces in the leaf.

While the Li Shan was quite enjoyable, I have to admit I am much more fascinated by the first cup of this Ali Shan. We must investigate with further cups before drawing any firm conclusions. Oh, the sacrifices I am willing to make for this blog.

Wet Leaf
On cup two I was more observant of how much water was used. I poured this pot without the strainer and had no leaf in my mug. As I poured, the brew had a green tint that quickly changed to white grape in the mug.

With this cup I am noticing a light butteriness and a hint of mint, in addition to the previous floral aspects. This cup is better than the already wonderful first cup. It seems very sweet.

I am going to keep steeping this leaf a while longer but from what I am tasting I can confidently say I prefer this Ali Shan over the Li Shan. Both are very good, so this is a personal preference. Get a sample of both and see for yourself.

You can find this and a nice variety of teas and teaware here.


1 comment:

  1. Nice job! I also love side-by-side comparisons. I think that's really the best way to tease out the subtle differences.