Origin: Li Shan Taiwan
Year: Spring 2007
Vendor: Red Blossom Tea Co.
Price: $230/lb. (Spring 2006)
This is the other oolong that I received from Red Blossom to replace the tung ting. Which was nice, because only the 2006 harvest is available on their website. First let me say that this tea more than any other has taught me why gongfu means skill and practice, emphasis on practice. I used all the leaf I had practicing today, and in the end I only caught a whiff of the tea's true potential.
(Recently I have lamented the lack of educational opportunities for newcomers to tea, and I remember my confusion just six months ago reading other blogs, tung ting, dong ding, ali shan, li shan, wuyi, yiwu, dhp, wtf? So from here on out I will try to provide more information about the tea, tea ware, and customs that I discuss).
Li Shan (Pear Mountain), not to be confused, as I did, with Ali Shan, is part of the Yu Shan (Jade Mountain) range in Taiwan. Li Shan itself is located in Taichung County, and is the highest tea-growing region in Taiwan, between 1800 and 2650 meters. At the highest altitudes. there are only two harvests a year, spring and winter.
This particular tea is crafted by an octogenarian tea master using heirloom techniques. Which I presume is where it gets the name from, and does not necessarily refer to the same thing as heirloom plants. It is oxidized longer but roasted at a lower temperature to give the tea a stronger flavor but still maintain the floral notes.
First round: 5 g/150 ml/200 F/ 5 s rinse, 30 s, 30 s, 60 s.
Second round: 1/3 gaiwan of leaves/200 F/ 5 s rinse, 45 s, 25 s, 10 s, 20 s, 30 s.
WOW. It was quite clear that I had messed up and gone too far. I used too much tea, which I could have gotten away with if I started with a much short steeping time. like 5 s. The first two infusions were undrinkable. The third, fourth and fifth were much better, the shorter time being the key. I could taste the finer notes of the tea, but it still suffered from my previous mistakes.
This was a definitely a learning experience. I wish I had more of the li shan so I could try again, but I will apply what I just learned on some ali shan gao shan I have. We'll see how I do in a day or two.