On the morning of October 2nd of 2013, my journey through the world of tea tasting took me to LiShan, in Taichung County, Taiwan. This sample of LiShan Spring Oolong tea was purchased from Tealet Teas, who sourced the tea from Mountain Tea of Taiwan. To view Tealet’s grower profile for Mountain Tea, click here.
According to Tealet’s website, LiShan (Pear Mountain) is located in the Jade Mountains range. This mountain range boasts the highest elevations in Taiwan. Due to the high elevations, these tea bushes are often covered in fog and mist. The cold mountain nights dip to near freezing temperatures, and the bushes receive little direct sunlight. These conditions allow the LiShan teas to develop naturally sweet and unique characteristics.
I recently reviewed the Mount Ali Milk Oolong tea that my tea brand, Hē Chá Tea, is offering as our one of our initial products. That tea is from the Ali Mountain region in Chiayi County, Taiwan. LiShan is in Taichung County, which is north of Chiayi. As I opened this sample pack, a familiar fragrance emerged that reminded me of the Mount Ali Milk Oolong. I am interested to see how these two compare in quality, taste, and other characteristics.
Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves of the LiShan Spring Oolong are green to dark green in color. The leaves are rolled into semi-ball shapes averaging the size of corn kernel. There is no breakage or crumbs. Leaves are attached to stems. The aroma is floral, with a slight scent of milk or cream.
The standard preparation method was used to brew this sample. Filtered tap water was heated to 190°F (88°C). Nine grams of tea were placed in a 24 ounce (700 ml) glazed ceramic teapot. The leaves were infused for 2 minutes. The liquor was strained into a separate decantor.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright and light greenish-yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma is sweet (honey and pears), floral (lilac), and very lightly vegetal. The liquor has a medium body, with a silky and mouth filling texture. The taste is floral (lilac), sweet (honey and pears), and has a sweetly vegetal note. The finish and aftertaste are smooth and floral, but after a few seconds, the taste is more similar to that of a fresh pear. Exhale through the nose, and appreciate the aftertaste for over a minute.
The second infusion produced a slightly darker, but still bright and light greenish-yellow colored liquor. The aroma is sweet (honey and pears), and floral (lilac). The liquor maintains the body and texture. The taste is very balanced between floral (lilac) and sweet (honey and pears). The finish and aftertaste are slightly stronger than the first infusion. Again, do yourself a favor, take a sip, swallow slowly, then exhale through your nose. It is exquisite. This second infusion overall was better in every way than the first infusion.
The third infusion produced a liquor that had a similar color to that of the first infusion, with a bright and light greenish-yellow. The aroma is lighter than the second infusion, but remains sweet and floral. The body and texture have lightened some, but are still medium and silky. The taste has lightened, with the floral taste being most prominent, and the sweet tastes having dissipated some, but still recognizable. The finish and aftertaste have lightened, but remain floral. Despite the lighter character, this third infusion is certainly acceptable. An additional infusion or two is expected to also produce acceptable flavor.
The infused leaves were a uniform fresh and slightly dark green. Most of the leaves had a very slight amount of reddish edges, some with no reddish edges, indicating that this oolong is on the lighter side of the oxidation scale. The leaves were mostly fully intact, with the plucking standard being two leaves, and still attached to the stem. No bare stems, and very few leaf fragments were present. Leaves ranged in length from 1.25 inches (32 mm) to 2.75 inches (70 mm). Leaves have some structural durability left, suggesting that an additional infusion or two is possible. The aroma is fresh wet leaves, with a very slight floral scent that is barely noticeable.
As usual, this Taiwanese oolong was exquisite. The lilac, honey, and pear taste was unique from other Taiwanese oolongs that I have had. The lower oxidation gave this LiShan Spring oolong some similar characteristics of a green tea, with the lighter green color and slight vegetal taste. The size of the infused leaves were impressive. All three infusions gave a high quality taste and aroma, with at least one or two more infusions expected to do the same. Another high quality product, another high pleasure review. Thanks Tealet and Mountain Tea!