Thursday, July 17, 2014

Green Terrace Teas, Li Shan High Mountain Oolong

Vacuum Sealed Sample
Green Terrace Teas Description:
Li Shan, or “Pear Mountain”, is named after the abundant pear orchards that originally occupied the region. In addition to its rich soil, Li Shan’s high altitude maintains a cool and moist climate that is ideal for creating superior quality tea. Our spring harvest was grown at an elevation of about 2,000 meters, or over 6,500 ft! Tea from Li Shan has a very high demand due to its limited supply and superior quality. Floral and fruity in character, this tea also has a very clean, soft mouth feel and evokes exotic flavors such as mango and tropical fruit. Can be steeped multiple times without losing flavor.

Origin: Lishan, Heping District, Taichong City, Taiwan

Harvest: Spring 2014

Sample provided by Green Terrace Teas

My Review:
I am super excited about my next couple reviews. I have both a Li Shan and an Ali Shan high mountain oolong to review. I have had only a few of each, but enough to believe I am in for something special. It will also be the first time I can compare the two back to back.

Green Terrace Teas is a small tea shop located in Taiwan. Most companies located in Taiwan seem to have very high shipping rates to the US. Green Terrace Teas has free shipping over $49 and a flat $5 shipping rate for smaller orders. Their teas are currently well priced making this a real opportunity to try out what Taiwan has to offer.

Dry Leaf
The golden foil vacuum sealed sample (say that 5 times fast) is 10 g. Cutting the top and removing some of the leaf for examination reveals rolled nuggets with partial stems of varying shades of green and some yellow tones. The scent is of fresh and clean green oolong and a sweet aroma that to me is kind of creamed corn scented.

I used 1/3 of the sample which appears about a level tsp (somewhere between what is in the bamboo scoop and what is on the plate). Once again I rolled out my new favorite glass teapot for the minute and a half steep with 190 F water. The steep was intended to be one minute but I got drawn into the dance of the leaf, and well, as they say, time flies when you are having fun.

The leaf relaxed and expanded quickly!

It is always interesting to see such large leaves appear, almost magically, from those tiny dry pellets. The liquor is clear and a very light cream or manila colored.


I poured it into a 5 oz Corelle stoneware cup that is coincidentally made in Taiwan. The brew turned a little more honey colored in the cup. Had I poured when I intended I think the brew would have been nearly clear.

The taste is not what I was expecting based on Steepster reviews. They all seemed to have fruit and floral flavors flying everywhere. I did not have the same result. To me this has a corn like taste. It is smooth and creamy but not overly so. Despite the smoothness this also has a bite. They play off each other and it is interesting.

Now as the cup cools I do begin to detect a fruitiness that is kind of pineapple and coconut? I read one review that said Pina Colada. Yeah, I can see that. It does not jump out and scream it, but it is there.

The aftertaste is slightly drying. In it, I catch the floral element I have been expecting. I have always called it geranium. Those who don't like green oolongs sometimes call it latex. No matter how you feel about green oolong, that flavor is mild and well behaved here.

Sunshine in a cup
The wet leaf, as you can see in the picture below, contains large leaves. Some joined together by the stems. There are some smaller broken pieces but not enough to cause me any concern.

I am looking forward to several more steeps from this leaf so back in the teapot it goes.

The second cup was steeped at one minute. As the water hit the leaf I noticed a spicy fragrance similar to cinnamon. The leaf is now pretty much filling the water in the teapot. The liquor has more of a floral bouquet.  The sip has a nice cooling freshness like mint without the mint taste. I must be starving for vegetables as this taste similar to potato to me. I really do not understand why I am not getting the same results as others recorded, but yeah, potato. Behind it I am getting a green kind of floral, kind of vine like notes. I know it sounds a bit odd but this is really good.

Wet Leaf

Cup three was prepared on day 2 with the same leaf and a one minute steep. This cup is much lighter than yesterday's cups but is nicely floral. When I first sipped this cup while hot I noticed a kind of earthy or maybe even cave flavor. It was gentle, well mannered, and pleasant. As the cup cooled the earthy note fades and this becomes a gentle bouquet of floral notes.

The fourth, and final cup, was steeped for two minutes. It is a little darker than cup three and has the same floral scent. The taste is also quite similar to the third cup with the addition of a spicy note.

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

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