I received a package yesterday that had sparked my excitement from the moment I was informed that it was on the way. The package contained sixteen different types of oolong, black, green, and white teas from Taiwan, and even a porcelain tasting cup (photo below). So let me start this post by extending a warm thank you to the generous people at Fong Mong Tea.
Zhu Lu tea was initially introduced in the 1980’s in Taiwan. Since that time, it has earned a reputation as a local favorite in Taiwan, despite the lack of recognition abroad. The name Zhu Lu translates in to English as “Red Jade”. This tea, of Qingxing cultivar, is grown in the area of the Ali Mountains (Alishan), Chiayi County, in an average altitude between 3,300 and 4,000 feet (1,000 to 1,350 meters) above sea level. Below is map showing the area of Alishan.
You can purchase 150 grams of the Zhu Lu Alishan High Mountain Oolong Tea from Fong Mong Tea for USD $30.99. This price includes shipping fees.
Let’s get to the review…
The dry leaves have shades of pale light green to dark charcoal-grey green in color. The leaves indicate a low-medium (about 20% to 25%) level of oxidation and a very light roast, if any at all. The leaves appear to have the classic Taiwanese oolong pluck of three leaves and a bud, and are tightly rolled into dense, compact balls. As is common in Taiwanese oolongs, many of the leaves are still attached to long, fairly thick stems. I expect to see the majority of leaves unbroken, with a few large fragments in the mix. The aroma has scents of brown sugar, sweet cream, honey, and a slight touch of dried peach.
The dry leaves were placed in a porcelain gaiwan and infused in 190°F water for 1:30 minutes. 15 seconds were added to the steep time for each subsequent infusion.
The tea liquid has a bright, light yellow color. The aroma has scents of sweet cream, honey, peach, and magnolia. The body is medium, with a clean, velvety, comforting texture. There is no astringency or briskness to this tea, just a pleasant sweet and floral character. The taste has notes of sweet cream, honey, peach, magnolia, and a touch of cooked spinach. The aftertaste is refreshingly floral, with a touch of peach sweetness, and lingers on the breath.
As of now, I am on the seventh infusion, and the leaves are still giving a very nice aroma and taste. I expect to get about ten quality infusions from this sample.
The infused leaves have a dark forest green color, with reddish-brown spots on some of the leaves and their edges. The pluck is three leaves, and some have a nicely developed bud at the end. There are no bare stems, but plenty of long, thick stems with unbroken leaves attached. The leaves are long, and neither notably broad or narrow in width. They have a smooth, soft leathery feel. The aroma carries the scents of sweet cream, peach, and magnolia. As the leaves cool, the floral scents begin to overtake the sweet scents.
The Zhu Lu Alishan High Mountain Oolong Tea is a pleasant, standard, everyday quality Taiwanese oolong. It has the classic floral and sweet characters in the aroma and taste that Taiwanese oolongs are known for, without the more complex character, higher quality fragrance, and more potent aftertaste that the superior quality (and higher priced) Taiwanese oolongs boast. This sample proved to be a nice refresher course on what to expect from the better products that were included in the box from Fong Mong Tea. The number of quality infusions from this tea were very respectable. Again, the best way to describe this tea is a perfect everyday drinking oolong from one of the most renowned oolong tea producing regions on Earth. You will not break the bank drinking this on a regular basis, and will get enough of that Taiwanese oolong character to keep you satisfied.
Many thanks to Fong Mong Tea for their generosity in sending this sample of Zhu Lu Alishan High Mountain Oolong Tea. I look forward to experiencing the other samples in the box. Cheers!