In late spring in Taiwan, a common weather pattern is sunshine in the morning and clouds in the afternoon. So, this Tuesday, I got up at 3:30 AM to drive to Lishan in order to take these pictures of Taiwan's highest tea plantations! Alone on the small mountain road, it feels like a privilege to experience the beauty of these amazing landscapes. "The world belongs to those who get up early" is a popular saying in France and it never felt more true for me!
It's a feeling of something new, like the very first sip from the newest tea you have just received. It's fresh and crisp, full of energy. Just like my early morning touring of Lishan plantations.
Turning tea passion into a blog and later into a new career, I always thought I had chosen a peaceful and calm activity. Driving on mountain roads can be a little bit dangerous, but not when you are well rested. Drinking tea is good for your health! However, that day I found out that tea can also extremely dangerous. This is what I encountered while walking in the tea mountain:
Always wear trousers and good shoes! And look where you're walking! This snake didn't prevent me from visiting more plantations that morning, but I decided to have tea under this safe pavilion after my lunch.
I found this nice spot on top of Fushou Shan, which is also the top of Lishan. From there, I had a nice view on the Oolong plantations and on the nearby mountains.
So, I decided to brew some leaves I had taken with me: this winter's Da Yu Ling Oolong! I was wondering how this 2000 m + Oolong tastes at 2500 meters altitude. It would be different than at my place, because the water would boil at a lower temperature at this elevation (91.6 degrees Celcius only)!
Being outdoors also contributed that I use more leaves than usual. As expected, the tea felt very different. Softer and lighter. It also cooled down much faster.
The connection with the mountain and the air was perfect! I called it the 'trinitea' of Taiwan high mountain Oolong: a view of Lishan, on top of Fushou Shan and tasting Da Yu Ling!
- green color Chabu for spring,
- a simple porcelain gaiwan that is easy to carry and neutral in taste,
- classic qingbai cups that add a green touch to the brew,
- pewter Cha Tuo for a touch of elegance,
- a black glazed bowl by Michel François. It hides the waste water with grace, like a dark mountain.
Experiencing how different this tea tasted here, I knew I had to be very careful when tasting Oolongs in Lishan. It's easier to judge when you don't drastically change your testing environment. But it's still an unforgettable tea experience!
So, I didn't select any Lishan Oolong while I was on Lishan. But I did select one that I tested back at my place. I compared it to other spring Oolongs and liked it a lot. You can read more about its sweet aftertaste here. (It's only 1 week old and it could be in your cup in one more week thanks to EMS!...)
Here is a short video to share what it feels to be in a (just harvested) Oolong plantation on top of Lishan:
My name is Stéphane Erler. 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.