Qi Lai Shan is still a relatively obscure region of production for high mountain oolongs in Taiwan. As a close neighbor to Li Shan, Qi Lai Shan has a lot to offer and is slowly beginning to find a name for itself. Given Qi Lai Shan’s high elevation and proximity to the Eastern coast, the region is often shrouded in fog. This fog carries vital nutrients up the mountain from the coast and does an excellent job providing the tea plants with ample water. However, being shrouded in fog for much of the day means that less sun reaches the leaves making this region more challenging for farmers.
Our Qi Lai Shan is from a brand new farm located at approximately 1800 meters. While high mountain teas of superior quality tend to be of the Qing Xin cultivar, the producers of this tea specifically chose the Jin Xuan cultivar, for its creamy qualities, in an effort to counter-balance the slightly harsher growing conditions of this region. The result is a very interesting tea that has a charming if rugged temperament. It is a truly unique tea and a rare find.
On the palate this tea offers a rich floral quality not unlike teas from Shan Lin Xi paired with a pleasant bitterness. Given the Jin Xuan cultivar these are followed by a milky aftertaste that allows everything to harmonize well. Key flavors include nectarine, white flowers, and shortbread while more subtle notes are grassy and vegetal in nature.
This tea astounded us with its drinkability and complexity. For us the true joy of this tea is in the aftertaste that lingers exceptionally well. If you have tried and enjoyed tea from some of the more well-known regions in Taiwan, this can be a nice opportunity to expand your palate and explore a bit.