Cultivars: various Wuyi mountain cultivars that were brought from Fujian over 100 years ago
Place: Gankou village, south of Taiwan
Harvest: Spring 2012
Process: Semi-oxidized Oolong, rolled, lightly roasted.
Competition brewing: 3 grams for 6 minutes in a white porcelain set with boiling water.
Appearance of the dry leaves:
Greyish green. This color is explained by the salt from the ocean that is brought by strong winds. Indeed, we can see below how close the plantation is to the Pacific.
The conditions down here are very different from anywhere else in Taiwan. The elevation is very low (less than 100 meters above sea level). The temperatures remain hot almost all year long. And this means that the sun shines especially strong on these tea trees.
How do they survive? The researchers at the Taiwan Research and Extension Station found out that the roots of the old trees extend much deeper than elsewhere in Taiwan. The various and unidentified Wuyi tea bushes that were brought here 4/5 (tea farmer) generations ago have proved to be very adaptable.
But human effort and ingenuity also explains the resistance of this plantation. The farmers made sure that there would be high and strong trees around the tea plantation. These big trees act like a protecting barrier. And instead of using herbicides or fertilizers, we can see that the farmer puts dead wood between the rows of tea bushes. This prevents other plants from growing and provides food for the trees as they decompose.
The plantation hosts many different kinds of tea trees. This one, above, for instance, with its very large leaves really resembles more a bush in Wuyi than in Nantou!
The brew has a dark yellow color. This reflects a concentration of flavors.
The dry fragrance smells particularly sundried. There is no hint of freshness here! However, once brewed, the tea releases very fruity and sunny aromas. The notes are rather low and deep, though, and very different from a high mountain Oolong.
The taste is almost full body. What surprises most is a slight salty/soury taste that feels a little bit like the aftertaste of salty sea water in the mouth. Overall, there are no displeasing aromas and the brew feels natural and powerful.
The open leaves show their diverse tree origins and a medium oxidation level.
Such oxidation level makes them good candidates for a more thorough roasting. And that's why I also brought some medium roasted leaves.
This view of the Pacific shows the ocean that faces the Gankou Oolong tea plantation. Sun and sea characterize pretty well this very unique Oolong tea!
I live in Taiwan since 1996 and have been studying tea with Teaparker. He's a worldwide tea expert and author of over 30 tea books. The study of tea isn't just theoretical, but it's also rooted in daily practice. It's a path of continuous improvement. As my brewing technique improves I get access to better teas and better accessories. These things go hand in hand. My blog documents my learning since 2004. And I have set up an online tea boutique with my selection of top quality teas, accessories and tea culture.