Monday, July 11, 2016

Vacation in Alishan

Oolong plantation around Taihe, Alishan
Most western Oolong drinkers probably know Alishan as the origin of some of Taiwan's best High mountain Oolongs. But the fame of Alishan as one of Taiwan's major tourist destination isn't primarily related to tea. Actually, the tea plantations stop some 15 km before the Alishan National Scenic Area.

Located around 2000 m of elevation, the Alishan scenic area provides wonderful views of sunrise and sunset. Hotels will even give you a morning call (at 3 AM in summer!), if you wish, so that you can catch a glimpse of sunrise.
Sea of clouds during sunset in Alishan
Alishan is a great escape from the hot and humid Taiwan weather in summer. The temperature is a nice 20 degrees Celcius while it's well over 30 degrees in the big cities.
Morning sunshine
Alishan has the typical high mountain weather pattern that suits Qingxin Oolong so well: a few hours of intense sun in the morning followed by cool fog and cold nights that brings moisture and keeps the growing leaves fresh. But this climate pattern can be found in all high mountains in Taiwan.

Afternoon fog
It's the large presence of Taiwan cypress trees that has contributed to the unique early
development of Alishan during Japan's occupation of Taiwan (1895-1945). Japan even built a railway to access this special logging area. These big trees were perfect to serve as beams in temples or big traditional houses.
Ancient cypress
These large and ancient trees are what makes Alishan such a special place. There are 2 very easy trails in the park that bring you close to trees that are 800, 900, 1500, 2000 years old! The oldest tree, 2500 years old, is called 'holy' by local aborigines and draws crowds of Chinese tourists.
A little bit farther, far away from the crowds, there's this giant red cypress that is 2000 years old! It's still standing, because this area of the forest was more difficult of access! This one is truly majestic. And it's interesting to see that so many other plants have started to grow on and around it. Lichen, moss and even rhododendron flowers!
2000 years old cypress
So, guess what type of tea I'm drinking in this forest of ancient trees?
Old arbor raw puerh! (In this case, it was my 2006 Lincang cake). My purpose is to verify that there are similarities between the scents of these trees and my wild, old arbor puerh. Tea leaves will absorb the fragrances of their environment and that's why old arbor puerh tree should have similar complex scents of lichen, moss as in this forest.
And in terms of taste of energy, you'd expect something rich, thick, but pure, fine and powerful at the same time. It was therefore a real pleasure to feel how this puerh echoes the fragrances and beauty of of this forest of old trees!
Raw old arbor puerh
(Note: I'm back at work and ready to ship your tea orders.)

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