Friday, May 13, 2011

Gao Shan Ali Shan Oolong from Spring 2011

This week's highlight is this Cha Xi with 2 American tea lovers. They both work in a tea shop and are so interested in tea that they came to Taiwan to tour the tea growing regions, tea shops and say hi to one of their favorite tea bloggers!

On a beautiful and hot day, I drove to the hills of southern Taipei and, after some searching, we found a great spot to brew tea. It had both shade and a nice breeze coming from the valley. My regular source of spring water was dry (due to the draught). Luckily, we could get enough water from a nearby temple.

Here, among others, I brewed the April 14, 2011 handpicked High Mountain Oolong from Zhang Shu Hu (in Ali Shan). At an elevation of 1600 meters, it is (so far) the best spring Oolong I selected this year. It's so good that I even can use my silver teapot!

Looking at the Cha Xi from above, I called it "Cha Dao, finding your tea path": the 3 qingbai singing cups seem to form a road around the plate and the jar. It's also a theme that resonated with my guests, after their weeks of travel around the island from one tea place to another. What surprised them is that they didn't find the best teas in Lugu or Ali Shan (where they are grown), but in tea shops in Taipei!
This Ali Shan Oolong (Qingxin/luanze Oolong cultivar) felt so pure and refreshing, sweet and long lasting!

The brew is so clear and transparent! And, amazingly, I've only used very few leaves. Opened up, they only occupy half of the teapot. These leaves have an incredible concentration and power that one would usually from a Da Yu Ling. And they also have the fruity and exuberant character of Ali Shan Oolong.

The cold weather and slow growth of this spring's harvest is one explanation for this unusual concentration. Another is that this comes for a new plantation.

For an optimal cup, I recommend to use fewer leaves than you usually do and wait long enough for the leaves to open up in the first brew.

A wonderful celadon tea jar completes the Cha Xi. It's color stands out and reminds me of Ju porcelain. I'm currently testing it along with other jars I've recently received.

3 happy Oolong drinkers!

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