Tea Trekker has a spectacular Li Shan gao shan again this year! Our delicious 2021 Spring Pluck oolong has incredible flavor components and is a real treat to sip and savor. Li Shan oolong is traditionally among the most revered and costly of the Taiwan gao shan, and this one is too. Do not miss this excellent example of such an auspicious varietal. In spite of the very dry weather conditions recently in both Taiwan and eastern China’s oolong-growing districts, some varietals do very well with a drier growing condition. Though the yield is reduced, the intensity of flavor can be quite remarkable, or it can be flat. This is where the tea master’s hand comes into play. It is in the challenging weather years that the influence of the tea farmer becomes more important than in one of the normal ‘easy’ years, when just about anyone can grow a tea bush! We are very fortunate indeed to have such a marvelous tea grower and producer, who sends us only super tea, even in a challenging and disappointing year. If you are lucky enough to obtain some of this tea enjoy it and notice it because it is similar to what can occur in a dry year for an olive grove or fruit orchard: the fruit (or leaf in this case) is challenged and has a more difficult life cycle, but the flavor elements can be quite exquisite…if the person supervising the manufacture is experienced and careful.
Tea Trekker’s 2021 spring pluck Li Shan is lightly roasted, which keeps the aromatics high and bright, and gives the tea liquor clarity and a lovely pale key lime green color in the cup. The cold, thin air of this location (above 6,000 feet, often around 8,000 feet) conspires with the soil to produce a succulent oolong that is chewy, juicy, and has a pleasant combination of sweetness and astringency. The aroma of this tea is floral, yet there is an austere, slightly dry, ‘chilled‘ quality to the flavor that shows restraint on the part of the tea maker.
Multiple infusions are necessary to reach the heart of this tea, a journey that is totally pleasurable and often delightful.
The most prominent aspect of the overall taste of this oolong is soft, ripe melon. The steeping yields a very soft but full body that is in balance with the flavor highlights. The tea enthusiast should pick up the flavors of melon, papaya, and Asian pear in the aroma and taste. There is a softly-honeyed aspect to the tea liquor, that yields quickly to its pure, clean aroma and then its over-all completeness. and balance.
This tea is made from a beautiful, expert pluck.
Upon steeping, and especially at the 3rd or 4th infusion, the leaves will have opened to an astonishingly large size. Be sure to pull some out, lay the plucked clusters of leaf on a table, and carefully spread the pluck in order to admire its full glory. A gao shan pluck is generally the complete stem end of the branch and includes three or four connecting leaves and sometimes a little bud or two. This tea shows a masterful pluck. The leaf also shows a bit of the crimson hue along the edges (as a good Tieguanyin does) from the expert bruising offered during its manufacture. Although the leaf is a tad smaller this year (2021) than other, more ‘normal’ years, it still shows the same characteristics.
A top-quality gao shan such as this is often best enjoyed when it has been allowed to cool slightly in temperature before drinking.
The tea was rolled and roasted many times in the traditional method, and given a rest in between each roasting, for a total of 10-12 days in process. The water content of the leaf has been brought down to less than 3%, which insures that the tea will stay flavorsome and aromatic throughout the coming year (and beyond).
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