Qilai High Mountain Oolong Tea
This low-oxidation oolong tea is called Qilai because of where it comes from; in fact, the plants from which it is made are found on the mountain of the same name located approximately in the center of the island of Taiwan. This mountain represents one of the highest points on the island: at an elevation of 2,000 meters above sea level is the harvesting area for these shiny, fragrant leaves. Altitude is always a very important factor in the development of a tea plantation because it prevents the presence of insects that can destroy young, tender leaves; it also promotes a cooler climate while still ensuring good moisture for the plants given the constant low clouds that come in from the ocean and settle on the mountain slopes.
Qilai High Mountain oolong tea leaves because of all these factors already present a very rich natural oil component to the eye and aroma, which can be found both in the oily body of the liquor and in the intense floral bouquet that develops beautifully in the cup.
Tasting – Sight and smell
Qilai High Mountain oolong tea leaves are clustered, with a glossy surface and various shades of green ranging from undergrowth to lighter green, with hues between ochre and golden at the long stems. Once infused, the leaves initially give off herbaceous notes, and then develop milky, creamy scents and a splendid bouquet of white flowers. As the brew progresses, a hint of toasted almond and a light hint of caramelized sugar also tends to emerge in gaiwan. In the cup, the liquor is a beautiful bright straw yellow, with a dense, oily body.
GONG FU CHA
The first infusion of Qilai High Mountain Oolong Tea Qilai initially has a fresh, herbaceous taste reminiscent of freshly cut grass. Notes of vanilla, the sweetness of custard, and important hints of white flowers such as lily of the valley and magnolia emerge soon after. With the second infusion, the milky and buttery notes intensify, and the body also becomes more sustained. Flowers (wisteria, lilac) remain very present and a slight citric note appears, fresh and well balanced with the other scents. The third and subsequent infusions always carry with them a strong creamy and sweet component, while the floral bouquet veers toward monoi notes followed by a fruity pineapple note at the close.
The first sip of Qilai High Mountain Oolong Tea Qilai reveals a remarkable floral intensity, with a bouquet of white flowers that has notes of lily of the valley, wisteria and magnolia. Also clearly discernible on the palate are the sweet, milky hints typical of Taiwan’s high mountain oolongs, hints reminiscent of custard and cream, with hints of vanilla. Tropical fruit notes such as pineapple and coconut also make their way onto the finish, while the persistence is very sweet and extremely floral.
Place of origin
After harvesting, Qilai High Mountain oolong tea leaves wither in the sun for a few hours before moving to rest on bamboo trays indoors. Here it’s where the oxidation starts thanks to a manipulation of the leaves (the shaking) made by the tea master. Due to the low oxidation of this tea (about 20%), it takes only a short time before the tea moves on to the next stage where the leaves pass through a charcoal-heated oven to stop the enzymatic activity and fix the characteristics of the product. After this stage in the oven, the leaf is given its final shape by rolling it up by hand so that its aromas can be better preserved. The product is ready for consumption once it has completed its drying process, which allows it to keep its rolled shape.
How to prepare
We strongly recommend infusing Qilai High Mountain oolong tea in the traditional Chinese method (gong fu cha) to best enjoy these leaves. Following this preparation, 5 grams of leaves (about 2 teaspoons) can be used in a gaiwan of about 150 ml to make several infusions with different tastes. After a quick rinse of the leaves in water at 85°C, an initial infusion of 20 seconds can be made, and after that, keeping the water at the same temperature, the time can be increased each time by 5 seconds from the previous infusion (20 – 25 – 30 …).
These leaves could be steep about 9 times.
For a classic preparation according to the Western style, we recommend 3 grams of leaves (about 1 tablespoon) in a 200-mL cup with water at 85°C for an infusion time of 3 minutes.
If you would like to experiment with infusing this tea with different amounts of leaves try to think of a suitable amount to allow the leaf to expand freely into the liquid without being compressed or hindered in doing so. By doing so, you will make the most of this product without hindering the extraction of flavour substances.
The tea can be filtered for greater ease at the moment of tasting, and also the infusion times indicated above are intended to be purely indicative, so you can also adjust according to your personal taste.
It is recommended that Qilai High Mountain oolong tea be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.