Ali Shan High Mountain Oolong Tea from Green Terrace Teas

AliShanGTT1Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Green Terrace Teas

Tea Description:

Ali Shan is one of Taiwan’s most famous tea growing areas due to its high elevation and rich soil.  The cool and moist climate allows the tea leaves to grow more slowly, developing a higher level of complexity and flavor.  Our premium grade Ali Shan High Mountain Tea, or “gao shan cha” in Chinese, is grown at elevations of 1,300 meters (4,265 ft) and above.  It has a sweet buttery taste with a creamy body and mild floral undertones.  The tea becomes more vegetal after a few steepings, bringing a pleasant variation of tastes among each infusion.  Overall, this is an exquisite and savory oolong that can be enjoyed at any time of day.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:


No matter how many times I drink Ali Shan Oolong, it seems like my very first reaction after that first amazing sip is “Oh my god!  Oh wow!”   And that’s because Ali Shan is just that good.  There’s a reason why it’s my favorite Oolong teas (and one of my very favorite teas of all).

And this Ali Shan High Mountain Oolong from Green Terrace Teas is one of the best I’ve had.  It is so incredibly sublime that it feels like I’m floating in the clouds when I’m sipping it.  Yep, it’s heavenly.

The leaves look very much the way I’d expect an Ali Shan tea too look.  Vivid green leaves that have been tightly wound into pellets that unfurl slowly in hot water to release their flavor.  The aroma of the dry leaf is floral – an intense floral note.  The brewed tea keeps that floral note, although it is softened significantly.

To brew the tea, I reached for my gaiwan and added a bamboo scoop to the bowl of the gaiwan.  I heated freshly filtered water to 180°F and added enough liquid to cover more than cover the leaves and let this ‘steep’ for 15 seconds.  Then I strained off the liquid and discarded it.  (I rinsed the leaves!)  Then I refilled the gaiwan with the hot water and let the tea steep for 45 seconds.  I strained this first infusion into my special Yi Xing mug that is just for Ali Shan teas.  Then I continued the process, adding 15 seconds onto each subsequent infusions, until the mug was full (4 infusions).

AliShanGTTThe first sip of this first cup (the first 4 infusions), elicited the aforementioned response of:  Oh my god.  Oh wow!  And then my second sip elicited the response:  Oh that’s lovely!  It’s a good thing that my Ali Shan Yi Xing mug holds 4 infusions because I would have finished the whole cup before I was able to get any sort of lucid comments about this tea for the review.

This is sweet and lusciously smooth.  It’s like what I’d imagine drinking liquid silk to be like, only much tastier.  Maybe liquid silk mixed with thinned honey.  Even then, I wouldn’t quite have captured the true flavor of this delightful tea, because it has so much complexity.  So many delicious layers of flavor.  The top layer is floral, reminiscent of orchids but I also want to say that I taste honeysuckle too.

To illustrate what I’m experiencing with this floral note, I’ll use an example that I’ve used many times in the past:  my bedroom in my grandparent’s former house in California.  When I was young, they had a honeysuckle vine that grew just outside the window of the bedroom.  And when the Santa Ana winds would make their way through the area, the breeze would pick up the amazing scent of the honeysuckle and bring it into my bedroom and I’d smell that delightful aroma and even taste the air.  Now, if my grandmother also had an orchid plant or two outside my window … the combined “air” that would filter into my window would be what I’m tasting right now.

Other layers of this tea offer a soft, buttery taste and texture.  Hints of vegetation.  Honey.  Very soft, very silky, very sweet.  And a pleasure to sip.

My second cup (infusions 5 -8) was just as lovely as the first (and perhaps even lovelier!) with it’s sweet, creamy, honeyed notes.  The floral notes are soft, they seem just a tad softer than they were in the first cup.  The sip starts out smooth and silky and it maintains this texture all the way to the finish.  There is very little astringency to this.  And when I say ‘very little’, that is to say that there is only a hint of dryness toward the tail.  That’s it!

A beautiful tea from start to finish and offers so many lovely infusions, making this not just a lovely tea to sip, but a good value too!  If you’re looking for THE one Ali Shan to add to your tea cupboard, I highly recommend trying this one – it’s an excellent Ali Shan.  I’ve had some really amazing experiences with Green Terrace Teas and I think I saved the very best of those experiences for last.

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