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No. 168 - Nonpareil Taiwanese Li Shan Oolong Tea

Quick Overview

Speaking on Taiwan tea, Li Shan Oolong Tea is the top level Taiwan Gao Leng oolong tea. The special phrase Gao Leng, 高冷(gāo lěng) in Chinese, means high and cold, refers to the environment at high altitudes and in low temperature. Li Shan tea trees are grown in this high and cold environment, making the tea leaf soft, thick with high content of pectin substances. This unique feature cannot be found on the teas grown in low altitude areas. Just as an old Chinese saying that human beings are shaped by the land around them. So are the tea trees. By this token, growing of the tea trees, picking the fresh tea leaves, as well as processing of the tea all reply on the environment condition. The climate in Lishan Mountain makes Gao Leng Tea in a limited output. It is a remarkable tea.

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Details

Development of Li Shan Tea

Li Shan Tea refers to the tea planted in the altitude higher than 2000 meters. In the early 70s, the farmer Chen Jindi firstly succeeded to plant tea tree which is the famous Qing Xin Oolong, in his apple garden and pear garden. After that, this tea tree is extensively planted in Fushoushan Farm. The farm was undertaken by Tian Ren Tea in the early stage, because of which the tea was called Tian li Tea. As the tea tree are planted in the area over 2000 meters high where the climate is cool and cloudy all year long, the tea leaf is thick and soft, contains high amount of pectin substances as well as amino acid. Therefore tea made in here has full aroma and excellent taste. It has been wildly popular among tea lovers for a period of time. Thus, Li Shan Tea became famous. Afterwards a tea manufacturer was settled in Foushoushan Farm. Teas produced there and nearby are mostly called as Li Shan Tea.


The Farmer

Mr. Lui Zhiqiang, is the sixth generation owner of his family tea business. He built the highest tea garden in Taiwan, which is on Fushou Mountain near Lishan Mountain. In 2006, Taiwan hosted the World Famous Tea Expo. Mr. Lui was one of the sponsors. He also founded the Taiwan Tea Roasting Technical Seminar. Besides of tea, he is also experienced in the firing skill of porcelain tea wares. Lui keeps a unique understanding of building a tea garden. He said that the key of building a tea garden is to make the environment, soil, weather be integrated with the tea. He also mentioned that water is the most powerful kind of material to memorize information. 80% content of fresh tea leaf is water. The water will carry the characteristics of soil and weather into the tea leaves. Then they can make delicious tea and sweet tea liquid.

When talked about picking fresh tea leaves, Mr. Lui said except being tender, the fresh leaf must be thick and fleshy, as well as in bright green color. This is the requirement of picking for making good High Mountain tea. Lui thinks that every business is competitive, except for tea. The specialty and high quality of Taiwan tea makes it irreplaceable. He said:” no matter what you do, tea business or others, you need to seek for the joy of the business. When talking about tea, talking about Fushou Mountain, talking about Da Yu Ling, I will feel joyful in my heart.”


The origin place – Fushoushan Farm on Lishan Mountain

Map of Li Shan, Taiwan

Lishan Mountain locates on the north end of Nantou County, lying on the common boundary of Taichung, Hualien, at the altitude of 2000 meters. The main tea production areas in Lishan Mountain include Fushoushan Farm, Cuifeng, Cuilan, Wuling and so on, spreading from altitude 1200 meters to altitude 2600 meters. Fushoushan Farm is on the south mountainside of Lishan Mountain, close to the Central Cross-Island Highway. When looking at the farm, you will see the land is covered with green tea trees, and smell the elegant fragrance of flowers. The Fushoushan Farm, however, is not the highest tea garden in Taiwan. It ranks number 2, after the top Dayuling tea garden, which is 2500 meters high. Dayuling Oolong Tea is the best grade among Li Shan Tea. Besides this, Wuling Farm and Cuifeng tea garden are also the representative Li Shan tea gardens.

Though Lishan Mountain is high, it is a busy place with crowds and traffic. But at the height of 2000 meters, Fushoushan Farm is a quiet and cool place for spending the hot summer.


Taiwan High Mountain Tea

In Taiwan, the teas planted above 800 meters high can be called as High Mountain Tea. Main representative High Mountain tea includes Ali Shan Oolong Tea (altitude between 1000 meters to 1500 meters), Ali Shan LuZhu Tea, Shan Ling Xi Oolong (altitude at 1600 meters), Li Shan Oolong Tea (altitude over 2000 meters), and Da Yun Lin High Mountain Cha Wang Oolong Tea (altitude over 2500 meters).

Due to the cold, cloudy and short sunlight time, High Mountain tea is better in quality than teas grows in lower altitudes.


The Difference Between High Mountain Tea And Low Altitude Tea

Normally, in Taiwan tea trees grown at the altitude less than 800 meters are called as low altitude tea. It is different from high mountain tea on the geological features and climate. Taiwan is a mountainous island. The mountain area covers almost 2/3 of its total area. With high mountains in the middle of the land and low coast surrounded, the island has wild water and good drainage. Climate here is more complicate. Mountainous geography allows monsoon climate and high mountain climate existing at the same time. Li Shan Oolong Tea grows in the area over 2000 meters high. Yet as we know, temperature declines 6 degrees for each kilometer the altitude rises. Therefore, the climate on Lishan Mountain is cool all year round. Tea leaf grows slowly, and is soft with elegant aroma and obvious floral scent. Moreover, the unique geography feature forms distinctive nutritious substances in the tea, which is the quality that low altitude tea doesn’t have.

But there is a question: can this place produce top quality Taiwan Gao Leng tea? The answer is not certain. Under the high mountain and cold condition, processing Gao Leng tea will be extremely hard, which can be seen from its expensive price. But why? The making of high quality oolong tea requires good material as well as good weather. Chinese people believe that when the weather favors us, it is the best time for making oolong tea. Good sunlight is needed; meanwhile the process must be quick. Nevertheless, the unstable weather on high mountain couldn’t allow the workers to make tea always in the best condition. In bad weathers, the Gao Leng tea wouldn’t have high quality. No wonder why top teas are always expensive. The result of making high quality teas are limited by many factors. However, if you have a chance to taste it, you will think it values.


Qing Xin Oolong Tea Tree

Qing Xin Oolong tea tree is high quality specie, suitable for making Pouchong tea. The tree is bush. Leaf is oval, has thick mesophyll, and appears to be soft and smooth, slightly elastic. Its surface is glossy in deep green color. Buds have abundant pekoes, sprouting later than other species. The bud is green with light purple color.

Additional Information

Ingredients Oolong Tea
Product of: Taiwan
Region(s) Taichung City
Antioxidants Medium
Caffeine Low
Makes Great Iced Tea No
Milk No
Sugar No
Lemon No
Mint No
Organic No
Chinese Gongfu Method (Water Amount) 2.87 fl oz / 85 ml
Chinese Gongfu Method (Water Temp) 194 F / 90 C
Chinese Gongfu Method (Amount) 7 g
Chinese Gongfu Method (Time) Rinse, 25s, 25s, 30s, 40s, 60s, 90s, 120s, 180s
Western Method (Water Amount) 16.9 fl oz / 500 ml
Western Method (Water Temp) 194 F / 90 C
Western Method (Amount) 1 Tablespoon
Western Method (Time) 1-5 Mins (to taste)
Steeping Notes No