Lishan High Mountain Oolong Tea from Fong Mong Tea

LiShan High Mt.Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where To Buy:  Fong Mong Tea

Tea Description:

Lishan High Mountain Oolong Tea is one of the most unique and highest quality Oolong. Grown in the Li Mountains of Taiwan, this tea is harvested at the elevation of 1200 meters in an isolated area. Due to the cold weather and relatively harsh environments, the plants grow at a very slow rate and in small quantity. The tea is either harvested during the winter or summer and sometimes only once during the entire year. After the harvest, the leaves are carefully handled and aerated during the long ride to the nearest tea maker. Despite the difficult growing conditions, the leaves are selected as the highest quality of Oolong. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’m revisiting this tea – kind of.  This is a whole new year, and this Lishan High Mountain Oolong Tea from Fong Mong Tea is from a whole new harvest!

And not surprisingly, this is amazing.

Not surprising because:  1)  All the teas that I’ve tried from Fong Mong thus far have been good, and 2) I love LiShan Oolong teas!

I brewed this LiShan in my gaiwan, and the first five infusions (following a 15 second rinse) were combined into one cup, specifically, my Yixing mug that I have just for LiShan Oolongs!  Yeah, I love ’em that much!

The first cup is amazing:  buttery, silky-soft texture, floral, distant notes of fruit, and a touch of vegetal undertones.  It is deliciously sweet, almost a sugary sweetness that melds in a lovely way with the exotic floral tones.  I like that these floral notes are not sharp, they are as soft as the texture, they taste almost “fluffy.”

The buttery notes … well, I almost typed “creamy” instead of buttery, because they taste like something in between butter and sweet cream, but I decided that it had more of a buttery flavor than that of sweet cream, so I went with buttery instead.  That is to say that these creamy/buttery notes are not overly sweet to the point where they might be thought of as cloying, instead, they are like something that’s between sweet and savory, with just a few steps over toward the sweeter side than to the savory.

It’s quite a luscious tea to sip, it feels luxurious on the palate as it glides softly over it.  It tastes very creamy and light and sweet.  So good!

My second cup (infusions 6 – 10) was just as lovely as the first!  It is also sweet, creamy and delicately luxurious with its notes of cream, flower and hints of vegetation and fruit.  I didn’t notice so much of a distinct buttery note this time, though, it just tasted creamy and soft, like something that had been flavored with vanilla, but without a distinguished vanilla note.

The flower is just a tad sharper in this cup than it was in the first cup, and I think that this may be because of the fact that some of those creamy/buttery elements are not as apparent in this cup.  But I like the sharpness here, it seems to bring the floral notes more into focus for me, while with the first cup, they were soft and fuzzy, almost like a daydream about flowers.  Here I taste notes that evoke clear thoughts of orchid.

A really beautiful LiShan.  I loved every single sip of it.  It would be difficult for me to choose which cup I liked better (the first or the second!) but I will say this:  the flavor of this tea is so exquisite that you really should take this for as many infusions that you can get out of it!  It’s worth the effort.

Formosa Amber Oolong Tea from Upton Tea Imports

AmberOolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Upton Tea Imports

Tea Description:

With an oxidation level of approximately 40%, Amber Oolong (Wu-Long) teas produce a liquor that is darker than the Jade Oolongs. The flavor is slightly more earthy and robust. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Formosa Amber Oolong from Upton Tea Imports reminds me of the first Oolong tea that I ever tasted.  It was a very memorable experience for me, because I had never really experienced an Oolong before, and everything about it was just … different!  The texture, the sweetness, the distinct fruit notes.  It was really quite a delightful experience.

And this tea is taking me back to that moment.

Since that moment, I have learned quite a bit about Oolong teas including the best way to brew them.  Well, maybe I shouldn’t say that.  How about I revise that statement to say the best way that I know of to brew them.  The way that produces the most flavorful cuppa for me.

And that is, as I’ve said many times, in a gaiwan.  I use short steeps, starting with just 45 seconds for the first infusion – following a 15 second rinse – and then I add 15 seconds on to each subsequent infusion.  The strained liquid from the first two infusions is combined into one cup, the third and fourth infusions will be combined into my second cup, and the third cup will be the combination of infusions five and six … and so on.

My first cup is sweet with lovely peach notes.  There are notes of earth to this cup as well, giving it a more pronounced “robustness” than a typical green Oolong.  Hints of a roasty, nutty flavor as well as some buttery notes, but I think that the butter is experienced more in the texture than the taste.  The tail offers a slightly cleansing astringency which essentially “cleans” the thick, buttery quality from the palate, preparing it for the next sip.  I like that this taste and texture doesn’t build and inundate the palate.

The second cup had a little less astringency than the first, and I noticed more of the peach-like notes emerging.  This is not quite as buttery, but I still notice the warm, nutty flavors and the notes of earth.  The peach-y sweetness is delightful!

Usually my second cup of Oolong tea is my favorite, but with this Formosa Amber Oolong, the third cup is my favorite!  The flavor is still going strong, and the delivery is much smoother.  This is sweeter and peachy-er!  The earthiness is less apparent now, and the nuttiness of the first two cups has melded with the sweetness of the peach notes.  I’m also getting a citrus-y note to this cup that I didn’t really notice with the first two.  This is a really lovely cuppa!

A really lovely Formosa … perhaps not the best Formosa I’ve tasted, but it’s really nice and a good representation of what the darker Formosa Oolong teas can offer.

Li Li Xiang Anxi Wulong 2013 Oolong Tea from Seven Cups

lilixiangTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Seven Cups

Tea Description:

The name “Li Li Xiang” means each leaf is fragrant. Most versions on the market are made from a blend of several tea bushes such as huang dan, ben shan ,mao xie and tie guan. This year we are excited to introduce Li Li Xiang made purely from leaves of the Tie Guan Yin Bush. Experience the stronger dark chocolate aroma, rich lightly roasted flavor and complex aftertaste of this high quality tea. While this tea’s level of oxidation is similar to other Anxi teas like Monkey Picked, it has undergone more intense roasting in its processing. This stronger roast gives Li Li Xiang a golden liquor color and a flavor that is reminiscent of Anxi’s traditional style. The interesting flavor and affordable price makes this a great everyday wulong tea.

Learn more about this tea here.

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Taster’s Review:

The aroma of the dry leaf of this Li Li Xiang Anxi Wulong 2013 Oolong Tea from Seven Cups was very interesting to me, it had a fragrance that was familiar – smelling of a top-notch Tie Guan Yin Oolong – but, the scent was much more intense than I have experienced with other Tie Guan Yin Oolong teas that I’ve tried.  It smelled very lush and “green” but there were also some very intriguing notes of raw chocolate.  The brewed tea loses much of this aroma, smelling mostly of vegetation, but there are some faint hints of raw chocolate if I really focus on the scent.

The raw chocolate notes translate – surprisingly! – to the flavor, and what a delightful surprise that was.  I’m not sure if it’s because I was smelling the chocolate in the aroma that my palate simply wanted to taste the chocolate but … it still took me aback because I’m not used to experiencing chocolate from a pure Oolong like this.

The vegetal notes are present too, but they meld with the other flavors of the cup.  I taste notes of flower and peach, with hints of toasted nut in the distance.  There is a creaminess to the cup too.  This creaminess reminds me a bit of vanilla, but it’s not quite a sweet as vanilla.  I like how the creaminess complements the notes of cacao.

My second cup (infusions 3 and 4) was even more delightful than the first.  The vegetal notes are softer now, and the fruit notes are emerging.  The floral notes blend in with the fruit notes and I like the flavor that the two produce together.  The notes of vanilla remain although this isn’t quite as creamy as the first cup.  I’m still noticing the subtle raw cacao notes.

With my third cup (infusions 5 and 6) the flavors were beginning to soften a bit.  This is still a very flavorful cup, but, I don’t think that I’ll continue to infuse this tea for a fourth cup.   I taste a sweet peach/apricot note mingling with the floral notes.  The vanilla is less discernable now, and I taste very little cacao as well.

This is a really wonderful tea.  One of the very best Tie Guan Yin I’ve ever tasted!

Jin Xuan Oolong Tea from Yezi Tea

jinxuanTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Yezi Tea

Tea Description:

Just as many people call Wimbledon tennis’s most important Grand Slam tournament, many a tea connoisseur likes to think of Jin Xuan as the most important oolong to come out of Taiwan. Jin Xuan is grown at 7,500 feet above sea level. At this altitude, the tea leaves are worked upon by hot days and extremely cold nights. These varying climatic conditions, along with a year-round fog, lend this tea a complex and diverse palette of flavors and sensations.

Like most Taiwanese oolongs, Jin Xuan has a naturally sweet flavor. After your first sip, you might find yourself thinking of sugarcane reeds swaying and glistening in the sunshine. However, after a few more brewings of this loose-leaf tea, its accompanying floral and tangerine scents will transport your imagination to a lush green orchard. Grown in the cool, high altitudes of Hualien County, Yezi’s Jin Xuan is brought to you from local tea farmer Gao Xiu Chen and is an ideal beverage for cooling you off on a hot summer day.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I have been looking forward to my tea time with this Jin Xuan Oolong Tea from Yezi Tea all day!  I drink tea daily, and I drink a LOT of tea daily.  But the time that I spend with an Oolong is special for me, because I love the complexity of an Oolong.  I love that I can keep steeping and steeping and explore so many different layers of flavors with an Oolong.  It’s such a relaxing and wonderfully contemplative experience!

And this Jin Xuan from Yezi is top-notch!  So sweet and creamy!  This first cup of tea (infusions 1 and 2 following a 15 second rinse) is very smooth and has a lightness to it that I’m sure will probably be gone with subsequent infusions.  The creamy texture is so delicate and really lovely.  I taste notes of flower.  Not sharp or perfume-y, these floral notes reside in the background at the moment, as if to let me know that they will soon be a bigger part of what I’ll be enjoying soon.

My second cup (infusions 3 and 4)  is indeed creamier and richer than the first was.  The floral tones are beginning to emerge now, but they remain pleasantly soft and sweet.  The cup is sweet and creamy and the mouthfeel is somewhat milky.

The third cup (a combination of infusions 5 and 6) is my favorite of the three cups that I enjoyed of this tea.  It is a delicious balance of silky creaminess and sweet floral tones.  It still has that milky texture.  And as the above description suggests, I do notice a hint of tangerine to the aroma when I inhale before a sip, and this influences the sip in a very delightful way, adding a hint of fruity finish to the sip.

A really FANTASTIC tea journey awaits you with this tea … I highly recommend it.

Zhong Shu Hu Oolong Tea from Tea From Taiwan

zhang_shu_huTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Tea From Taiwan

Tea Description:

Zhong Shu Hu oolong tea comes from the Zhong Shu Hu area of Ali Mountain (Alishan) – one of the most famous tea producing regions of Taiwan. The climate here is cool and moist with cloud cover and mists every day. These conditions are ideal for tea because the plants grow very slowly and produce tender, flavorful tea leaves and buds.

Zhong Shu Hu oolong tea has a sweet taste and refined aroma. Each brewing brings out new flavours and taste sensations. This tea has a complexity that provides continuous nuances with every cup.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Ah!  Ali Shan!  Yay!  There are few teas out there that make me happier than an Ali Shan Oolong.  And this Zhong Shu Hu Oolong Tea from Tea From Taiwan is an OUTSTANDING Ali Shan tea!

It is so sweet and light!  The light texture is what I’m noticing in particular here … this tea does not feel heavy or weighty on the tongue.  It seems to float over the tongue, delivering it’s delicate taste and delicious sweetness.

Up front, I notice notes of flower that are reminiscent of orchid.  There is a honeyed sweetness to the cup that accentuates the orchid notes nicely.  I notice hints of Asian pear (apple pear) in the distance … sweet and crisp!  And then there is the buttery note that is absolutely irresistible.

But what I like about that buttery note here is that it doesn’t weigh the palate down or feel like it’s “coating” my tongue.  It is light!  As if the hint of vegetable taste that is also a part of this tea has been lightly drizzled with melted butter.  Just enough to enhance the flavor of the veggies, but not enough to overwhelm their delicate nuances.

This is one of the best Ali Shan Oolong teas I’ve tasted in a very long time.  I highly recommend it to all those who love Oolong like I do.  And if you’re worried about the price – don’t!  I got ten AMAZING infusions out of one measurement of leaves … so consider the price an investment in good taste that will keep paying you in re-steeped dividends!