ShanLinXi Highest Mountain Oolong Tea from Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company

ShanLinXiTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company

Tea Description: 

This tea is a premium GaoShanCha. The special reserve teas are grown at very high elevations and take longer to grow. They take their time growing and develop a deeper, fuller flavor. This tea has a heavy liquor, it’s not dry at all or bitter. It’s very clean and refreshing. Explore this tea slowly with many infusions and you might catch such notes as butterscotch. We recommend brewing this tea gongfu style. Like our other teas, this tea is expertly grown, hand-picked, hand-processed and vacuum packed at the source!  Only our face-to-face sourcing directly with farmers insures you premium quality!  

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Wow!  This is an amazing tea!

The aroma of the dry leaf is intense.  It has a strong, sweetly floral fragrance.  The brewed liquid smells much softer, but I’m still able to pick up on those lovely notes of flower as well as hints of fruit.

To brew this tea, I grabbed my trusty gaiwan and measured out a little less than a bamboo scoop into the bowl of the vessel.  Because of the intense fragrance, I felt comfortable using a little less leaf than I usually would and after taking my first sip, I know I made the right call.  I use my instincts a lot when it comes to tea and more often than not, they have not let me down.

I performed a quick rinse (a 15 second infusion that is strained and discarded) and then infused the leaves for 45 seconds.  I strained the tea into a teacup and infused the leaves a second time, this time for 1 minute.  I strained the tea of the second infusion into the same teacup; hence what I am enjoying now is the combined first and second infusions.

And it is gooooood!

I drink a lot of tea.  And I’ve been drinking a lot of tea for many years.  For quite a few of those years, I’ve been writing about tea and before that time, I was creating my own tea blends.  So, I feel comfortable in saying that I’m knowledgeable about tea.  However, I certainly don’t consider myself a tea expert.  I think I could be drinking tea and writing about it for double the time that I have and I’m pretty confident that there is still a great deal that I don’t know about tea.  Tea is such a vast and somewhat mysterious subject.  Perhaps that’s why it keeps me intrigued.

And the reason I bring that up is this:  I am finding myself wondering how closely related are a ShanLinXi Oolong Tea (like this tea that I’m drinking) and an AliShan Oolong Tea?  If anyone out there has some knowledge they’d like to share with me, I’d really appreciate comments in the comment section.

In the meantime, let me tell you about what I’m experiencing with this tea.

The above description suggests notes of butterscotch.  And YES … I taste butterscotch!  I couldn’t believe it at first.  At first, I thought that my mind was playing tricks on me.  But no.  This tea has a lusciously sweet, delectable butterscotch-y taste to it.  I don’t often experience a caramel-y/butterscotch-esque note to an Oolong like this so I find myself amazed by this tea.

Sweet.  Yes, deliciously so.  Smooth.  No bitterness whatsoever.  No astringency.  No dryness at the tail.  No tangy sensation.  Just smooth from start to finish.  When I take a sip, It’s almost as if I have one of those yummy butterscotch candies in my mouth and it’s melting over my palate.

Once my palate became accustomed to the delightful sweetness of the tea, I started to pick up on notes of flower.  These are mere whispers of flower and the creaminess of the tea softens what sharpness the floral notes might bring to the cup.  I am also picking up on delicate notes of spice that complement the butterscotch notes.

For my second cup, I added 15 seconds onto each subsequent infusion and combined infusions 3 and 4.  This cup is less butterscotch-y than the first.  Oh sure, I still taste some of those delectably sweet notes.  The cup is still creamy and sweet, but I find that the distinct butterscotch has softened somewhat to allow my palate to experience the floral notes that were in the background in the first cup.  I like the way the butterscotch and flowery flavors play together on the palate.  It’s a really unique and delightful experience.

As I said earlier, I’ve been drinking tea for a long time but I don’t think I’ve experienced an Oolong quite like this.

Later infusions proved to be very enjoyable as well.  The flavor kept going strong with each infusion – I managed eight delicious infusions!  I found that with each cup, the creaminess softened somewhat from what i experienced in that first amazing cup and it was my favorite of the four cups I drank from these leaves.  But the three subsequent cups were quite lovely as well and I enjoyed discovering the layers of flavor that this ShanLinXi had to offer.

If you’re an Oolong lover, this tea should be a MUST TRY on your list.  Any tea drinker should try this, it’s an incredible tea!

Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Concubine Oolong Tea from Eco Cha

ShanLinXiTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Eco-Cha

Tea Description:

These leaves were cultivated by the same artisan who produced our previous batch of Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Concubine Oolong. It’s a relatively small farm, managed by a husband and wife team who transformed their plot of virgin high mountain bamboo forest into a tea garden just ten years ago.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Having previously enjoyed and reviewed the Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Oolong from Eco Cha, I was of course curious how the Concubine would make this tea different.  The dry leaf immediately greets me with a different aroma than I experienced with the aforementioned tea.  This smells very vegetative, reminiscent of a homemade vegetable broth.  The brewed tea has a softer fragrance but still smells of cooked veggies.

My first cup of this tea is the combination of my first two infusions in my gaiwan (following a 15 second rinse) and the flavor here is rather delicate.  It is sweet and tastes less vegetal than the aroma suggests.  There is still a light vegetative note, but I taste more of a sweet vanilla and orchid note here than I do vegetable.

I taste notes of resinous pine and nutty notes.  This first cup also has a very “airy” quality to it, like the crisp air in the mountains.  Unlike the “non-Concubine” variety of this tea, I am experiencing less astringency with this tea, at least in these early infusions.

My second cup (infusions 3 and 4) was slightly more astringent than the first.  The flavors are more pronounced with this cup, and it is still a sweet and very smooth tasting tea.  The floral notes are coming forward, and the pine notes are more apparent as well.  The vegetal notes are still rather delicate, and I’m not noticing the vanilla tones that I could taste in the first cup.

With the third cup (infusions 5 and 6) I could notice the flavors begin to wane, but this is still a flavorful cup.  Of the three cups that I enjoyed today, I found this one to be the most astringent, but, this is not what I’d call an overly astringent tea.  The flowery notes are more pronounced and I can taste notes of osmanthus with the orchid.  The resin notes are softer now, and I don’t really notice much of the vegetal notes at all now.  Of the three cups, this is the most floral tasting.

A beautiful Oolong.  This is a company that I highly recommend!  They offer great customer service (so friendly!) and I LOVE their packaging – it’s so classy.   And oh … of course, the most important thing:  the teas are amazing!

Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Oolong Tea from Eco Cha

ShanLinHighMountainTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Eco-Cha

Tea Description:

This tea garden was planted just 8 years ago, which is younger than most in the Shan Lin Xi area. This skilled farmer’s tea is in high demand and quickly sells out on a seasonal basis. This winter’s yield was record-low. This day’s harvest produced a mere 175 pounds of tea.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The aroma of this Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Oolong Tea from Eco Cha is interesting – I can’t recall smelling another tea quite like it.  Oh, it has some similarities to some other green Oolong teas, but, there is a delicate hint of pine resin to the scent that I don’t think I’ve found in other Oolong teas.  The overall fragrance is soft, with fresh notes of grass and flower and whispers of fruit, and then there is that subtle note of pine.  Interesting!

The brewed tea is much more vegetative to me than the dry leaf was, it is the scent of mild steamed veggies with a nutty tone.

I brewed this the way I would typically prepare an Oolong … in my gaiwan!  My first cup (infusions 1 and 2 following a quick rinse) is a sweet and savory tasting tea, with floral tones and a slight woodsy taste.  The floral tones are very soft and pleasantly sweet here.  The texture is light and refreshing, it doesn’t have that buttery or creamy texture that so many other green Oolong teas tend to have.  This is much lighter and cleaner.  There is a mild astringency at the finish.

The second cup had a stronger flavor than the first (as is often the case with Oolong tea).  This cup is slightly more astringent than the first cup and the flavor is more floral than the first.  I notice a slight resinous flavor here which makes it seem like a perfect Oolong for this time of year!  The texture remains light despite the stronger flavors.

I think with this Oolong, my third cup is my favorite.  Here is where I notice more of the fruity notes coming forward.  I taste a crisp, green apple sort of flavor, and I notice more sweetness as well.  The floral notes have tapered, and there is still some astringency here, but, it is subdued compared to the second cup.

Overall, a lovely Oolong.  It’s a bit different than some of the green, high mountain type Oolong teas that I’ve tasted before, and I like it when I find something different like this.  It still surprises me that with as many teas that I’ve tasted over the years … I can still find teas like this one that challenge what I’ve come to know about teas.

2005 Lao Lin Cang Ancient Arbor Sheng Pu-erh Tea from Life in Teacup


Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Life in Teacup

Tea Description:

Production Year – 2005
Season – Spring
Production Region – Yunnan
Factory – Lao Lin Cang Tea Factory
Style – Sheng

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review: 

The dry leaf aroma of this 2005 Lao Lin Cang Ancient Arbor Sheng Pu-erh Tea from Life in Teacup is a gentle, earthy scent.  Generally, I find myself kind of put off by the strong earthy notes of Pu-erh but, this is such a subtle earth scent that I’m not finding it off-putting at all, and the sweet tones are very intriguing.

I steeped this the way I would typically steep a Pu-erh – in my gaiwan.  I steeped the first infusion for 45 seconds (following a quick 15 second rinse), and the flavor was earthy and sweet, with a woodsy note to it that is sweet.  There are hints of a fruit-like note to this as well.  It’s a mellow tea with a pleasant sweetness.  There is also a cleansing astringency to this that I don’t usually find in a pu-erh.

The second (1 minute) infusion delivered a flavor that is less earthy and more sweet.  The woodsy note has developed and I am tasting more of the fruit taste now too.  The finish is sweet and the aftertaste is clean.

The next two infusions, I noticed that the earthy tones began to develop, and these tones meld together with the fruit and woodsy notes, and are softened by the sweetness.  Subsequent infusions, some of the earthiness begins to taper, and I find a nice balance of fruit and sweet wood tones.

Overall, a pleasant Sheng – mellow and relaxing.  The sweetness of this one keeps me sipping!

Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Black Tea from Eco-Cha

ShanLinXiHighMountainTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Eco-Cha

Tea Description:

This farm is owned and operated by a prominent tea artisan with several decades of experience in tea cultivation. He has been awarded champion of the most prestigious Oolong Tea competition in the world which is held at the Lu Gu Farmers’ Association. Nevertheless, his humble character allows us to sit and chat with him in his modest first generation tea factory on a regular basis. The tea garden is cultivated without any chemical weed killers or fertilizers, and only minimal use of water soluble pesticides early in the growing season.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The dry leaf of this Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Black Tea from Eco-Cha looks a lot like an Oolong.  The name even sounds like an Oolong … that is until you get to the “black tea” part.

The brewed tea is lighter in color than the average black tea.  But nothing about this tea screams average to me – and that’s definitely a good thing!  The liquid is golden and has a slightly earthy and woodsy aroma.  I also smell notes of fruit and flower.

The flavor is incredible!  It is so deliciously sweet.  I am quick to identify vanilla notes – sweet and creamy.  As the tea cools slightly, I am able to notice a minty tone to the tea.  This minty flavor is especially noticeable when I slurp the tea, aerating it.  I even notice the cooling effect of the mint-like flavor too, it kind of took me by surprise because there is no mint in this tea … only tea leaves!

The woodsy notes that are present in the fragrance start to present themselves in the flavor as well, but they are a bit more distant in the flavor than they are in the scent.

There are hints of flower in the distance, and these emerge more as the tea continues to cool.  There is a warmth to this tea as well, like a warm spice note.  The tasting notes on the Eco-Cha website suggest cinnamon, and I’m not sure that I’m actually tasting a distinct cinnamon note, but, there is definitely a warm spice note.

In one sip, I taste a slightly earthy note, the cool, crisp tones of mint, a sweet, creamy note that is very vanilla-esque, the warmth of spice and hints of flower and fruit and wood.  I find that it is best served hot, but do yourself a favor and let it cool for just a few moments after you’ve poured it from your teapot.  The cooling time gives the flavors time to set up, and it’s worth the wait!  This is good chilled too, but, I think that some of the complexity is lost as the tea gets cold, and the complexity here is so amazing that you really want to experience it!

Take this one for a second infusion too … it’s still really flavorful!  The flavors are not quite as focused as they were in the first infusion, but I still tasted all the flavors I did with the first pot of tea.  Amazing!

It’s a beautiful tea, and definitely one worth exploring!