Friday, May 27, 2011

Qi Lai High Mountain Oolong (2200 m)

A rainy day is the reason for the lack of sunshine on these pictures today. (A typhoon is brushing Taiwan from the east...) A long, late spring rainy season that started on May 10 is also the reason why this will be my only Oolong above 2000 meters this year. Continuous rain has negatively impacted a harvest that looked very promising. This was the bad news. Now comes the good news: I am adding this excellent Gao Shan Oolong from a lesser known mountain, and this one was harvested when the weather was still dry!

Cultivar: Luanze (qingxin) Oolong
Harvested by hand on May 6, 2011
Origin: Qi Lai Mountain (Central Taiwan)
Elevation: 2200 meters
Process: rolled, lightly oxidized and well dried Oolong.

Brewing: 3 gr for 6 minutes in a competition set.

1. Appearance
The dry leaves have their stems. They are smaller than what one would expect coming from such a high altitude. The color is fresh, but not bright. This points to a thorough drying.

The brew is very clear with very few residues and has a golden color. Good concentration.

2. Fragrances
Pure, flowery and lightly fruity. The closest smell would be of fresh and sweet cumquat (like a small orange). Fine buttery and sweet notes are also present.

3. Taste
Fine, sweet and longlasting. There is a little bit of dry aftertaste on the tongue, but it melts in sweetness. Gao Shan Oolong Cha qi often unfolds by recurring waves in the most. With this tea, I feel I'm almost hit by a tsunami inside my chest! Its a soothing and powerful experience. The heart beats faster and it's like I had taken a big breath of mountain air. Amazing strength and harmony! The next waves display a lot of finesse.

The open leaves and buds are rather small for this altitude. The farmer has harvested earlier than usual, concerned by the coming rain. This explains why the fragrances and taste are so delicate and concentrated.

The risk with such young leaves is that they are not sufficiently oxidized, but this doesn't appear to be the case.

Conclusion: This Qi Lai High Mountain Oolong is an excellent and interesting substitute for Da Yu Ling or Li Shan Oolongs. And if you want some great Li Shan Oolong, I still have some from 2010 in my inventory. (See Matt's recent review.) Thanks to the more thorough drying that I require from even my fresh Oolongs, they keep their freshness for a long time. There is no rush to finish them quickly. Such teas are good for the body and for the peace mind!

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