“High Mountain” might be one of the first teas that would pop up in your head when you hear Taiwanese tea nowadays.
There are many well-known teas from Taiwan, including Mu Zha Tie Guan Yin, Wen Shan Bao Zhong, Ding Dong, and Sun Moon Lake Black. Still, the most well-known and most produced teas from Taiwan must be High Mountain.
However, the problem is that there are too many High Mountain teas now, so it’s difficult for consumers to choose the right one. Even finding a mediocre one might require a lot of trial and error.
It will get a lot easier to choose once you learn the characteristics of High Mountain terroirs.
Some of the unique features of High Mountain climates are a huge daily temperature range and abundant clouds and mist. In addition, these regions get less sunlight than places at a low altitude. These climate attributes generally add great flavors to the tea.
Specifically, teas from High Mountain areas are balanced with clear and clean flavors, and have more umami and less bitterness/astringency than regular oolong teas. Plus, you can steep the leaves many more times than oolong from a low altitude.
The higher the altitude is, the more distinct the High Mountain characteristics become. The unique High Mountain characteristics are what separates them from other non-high-mountain Qing Cha, such as Wen Shan Bao Zhong and An Xi Tie Guan Yin.
Qing Xiang (淸香) is another unique attribute of High Mountain Teas. Qing Xiang is slightly different than floral fragrance. It is a clean, delicate and refreshing scent from High Mountain teas. You will note less Qing Xiang from more oxidized teas. The oxidation process replaces Qing Xiang with floral bouquets.
Today, most High Mountain oolong teas are produced with minimal oxidation. For minimal oxidation processes, it is better to use teas from high altitudes because teas from low altitudes become too bitter, astringent, and grassy if they go through a low oxidation process.
The information I gave might be confusing or overwhelming, but the good news is that there’s an even easier way to choose the right High Mountain tea; set the standard with great tea! This High Mountain Oolong tea made of Cui Feng from Li Shan (altitude: 7,700ft) can serve as the benchmark for great High Mountain teas. It has a delicate sweet base with very little astringency, just the right amount of high mountain fragrance, and vivid umami. The clean finish with a hint of floral aftertaste will keep your taste buds pleased even after your last sip has been long gone.
With its well-balanced rich flavor, pleasing fragrance, great terroir, and ability to be steeped more times than a standard High Mountain tea, Li Shan Cui Feng satisfies every requirement that luxury high mountain teas should have.
Li Shan Cui Feng High Mountain Oolong is available in our collection.