Taiwan is a small island country known for its beautiful landscapes, delicious street food and, of course, its tea. Among the many varieties of Taiwan tea, Ali Shan tea stands out as a true gem. Grown in the Alishan mountain range, this tea is known for its unique flavor and aroma.
The name “Ali Shan” literally means “Ali Mountain,” and it is no surprise that the tea grown in this region is of such high quality. The Alishan mountain range is known for its ideal tea growing conditions. The high altitude, rich soil, and natural rainfall provide the perfect environment for the tea plants to thrive. Additionally, the misty and foggy climate in the mountain range protects the tea leaves from the sun, giving the tea a unique and complex flavor.
The tea plants used to make Ali Shan tea are of the Qingxin cultivar, which is known for its delicate and floral aroma. The leaves are hand-picked, and only the top two leaves and a bud are used to make the tea. The leaves are then withered, rolled, and then partially fermented before being fired. The roasting process is what gives Ali Shan its distinct toasty and nutty flavor, as well as its dark green color.
There are different methods of roasting the tea leaves, and each method results in a different flavor profile. The traditional method is known as “charcoal roasting,” which is done by hand over a charcoal fire. This method gives the tea a more intense and smoky flavor. Another method is “oven roasting,” which is done in a modern electric oven. This method results in a more consistent and lighter roast, which gives the tea a more delicate and nutty flavor.
One of the most unique characteristics of Ali Shan tea is its beautiful and twisted leaves. The leaves are tightly rolled and shaped into small balls, resembling a spiral. This shape is known as “dragon balls” and is a sign of high-quality Ali Shan.
When brewing Ali Shan, it is important to use water that is not too hot, around 185-195°F (85-90°C) is ideal. The tea leaves should be steeped for about 2-3 minutes. The tea will have a yellow-green color and a delicate and floral aroma. The flavor is smooth and nutty with a hint of toasty notes. The tea will also have a light and floral aftertaste.
In Taiwan, Ali Shan tea is considered a luxury tea and is often served to guests as a sign of respect and hospitality. It is also a popular tea for gifting. The tea is also often used in traditional Chinese tea ceremonies.
To sum it up, Ali Shan is a truly magical and beautiful Taiwan tea. Its unique flavor and aroma are a result of the ideal growing conditions and the traditional roasting methods used in the Alishan mountain range. Whether you are a tea connoisseur or just looking for a new and unique tea to try, Ali Shan is a must-try. It is a true representation of the beauty and art of Taiwan tea.