|Yiguang shan Oolong plantation|
Origin: Yiguang shan, between Zhushan and Shan Lin Shi, Taiwan
Elevation: 700 meters
Harvested by hand on March 31st, 2013
This is a fresh, unroasted Oolong. (In my selection, I also have a medium roasted version - called Hungshui Oolong - made from leaves from the very same batch).
This tea doesn't qualify as a high mountain Oolong. The elevation must be 1000 meters or more. From the dry leaves, it's not so easy to tell, because at 700 meters, the climate starts to feel mountainous. Even the dry smell of the leaves doesn't indicate this would be a low elevation Oolong.
The brew has a good clarity and lack of turbidity. The taste has a typical Taiwanese Oolong mellow/sweet characteristic. No bitterness. It's just not as powerful as a Shan Lin Shi or Alishan Oolong. (But we can compensate this by using more leaves for our brew.)
This kind of fresh, hand harvested spring Oolong already qualifies as an above average Oolong compared to what we can find on the market nowadays. (Many stores here sell cheap, imported Oolongs from Vietnam... or you may even find artificially scented Oolongs). What makes this Oolong special for me, is that, for the first time, I found a scent of gooseberry in the brewed cup! Scents and memories are always personal, so, here, the smell of this tea reminded me of gooseberries. I used to eat them directly from the bushes in my parents' garden when I was a kid. These bushes have been uprooted some twenty-five or thirty years ago and I haven't had a gooseberry since. But the memory of this fruit is still vivid and this tea brings back this feeling of playing as a child in my garden in summer.
The size and shape of the unfurled leaves give us the best indication of the elevation of this plantation. We can also see the oxidation level by noticing the red color of the edges of the leaves. This Oolong isn't too green and this is also what made it suitable for roasting.