Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Harney & Sons
This is one of Taiwan’s highest mountain teas. The tea plants must battle cold (sometimes even snow) and frequent mists. This makes a haunting brew with echoes of honey and cream.
Learn more about this tea here.
I’ve had the opportunity to try several different Harney Teas, but this is the first time I’ve tried their Li Shan Oolong! And it is delightful!
It is extremely fragrant. The dry leaf offers some very vegetative notes, reminding me of a cross between freshly cut grass and mild green vegetables, with hints of flower in the background. But it is the aroma of the brewed tea that has me captivated. The smell wafting from my teacup at the moment is so beautiful: sweet … almost honey-esque, with flowery notes (the floral notes that were almost hidden in the raw leaf have emerged with the brewing process). I also smell fruit notes, reminding me almost of the smell of cooked peaches (you know that smell that fills the kitchen while baking a peach cobbler? Yeah, that’s what I smell… without the “cobbler”)
The flavor is INTENSE! Much more so than I would have expected from a Li Shan. It offers a strong sweetness that is somewhat honey-esque, but, more like the sweetness of an orchid … drenched in honey, if you can imagine that. The floral tones have a slight sharpness to them, which seems to cut through some of the honey notes which would otherwise linger on the palate and possibly overwhelm it with sweet tones. With the sharpness I find that I’m able to better explore the other flavors of this complex tea.
Generally with greener Oolongs such as this one, I don’t notice as much fruit-like flavors (for me, I notice more fruit tones with more oxidation … the darker the Oolong, the more enhanced the fruit notes become), but with this Li Shan the fruit notes are well pronounced, even in the early infusions. The first two infusions were also pleasantly creamy, offering a honey, cream, and fruit flavor that was positively felicitous on the tongue. By about the fourth infusion, the creaminess wanes, but, the floral notes begin to emerge a bit more and the tea becomes much like a lovely stroll through the garden!
Truly a worthwhile experience, this Li Shan Oolong. If you like Oolong tea, this is one worth trying!