Friday, August 10, 2007

Spring 2007 Heirloom Li Shan

Tea: Heirloom Li Shan Oolong
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.
The aroma is excellent, buttery with warm honey, it yielded a bright golden liquor, and the wet leaves are excellent, huge really. The first infusion was pleasant, floral, a mildly astringent finish, but the second and third the tea just sort of fell flat. Discouraged, I double checked my brewing method, and it was correct; I was using the recommended temperature and time. I decided to use more leaf, instead of measuring out in grams, just eyeball it.

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.

Sources: Tea From Taiwan; Wikipedia


ankitlochan said...


i wish to subscribe to your blog.

can you help me do that please.


Space Samurai said...

Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page, and there will be a link that says Subscribe to: Posts (Atom). Click on it and do whatever it says, and you should be in business.

Thanks for the interest!

Brett said...

I appreciate and share your goal to give your readers the best tea education you can. I am new to blogging and find your blog to be pretty inspirational.

I have a friends and connections in Taiwan and I visit at least once per year to practice Chinese, eat the amazing Buddhist food, drink and buy oolong and puer.