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2023 Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Oolong (Long Feng Xia)

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The return of an annual crowd favorite, this year’s high mountain oolong from the Yung family is a gourmet treat for the senses. Drought conditions across the island slowed growth down and distilled even more flavor, chi, and sweetness than usual. Cooling, thick and rich, herbaceous, addictive yet mellowing, this tea delivers a true 頂級 dǐngjí top tier oolong experience.

The Yung family was part of the first wave of 5 core families to settle the higher climes of 杉林溪 Shān Lín Xī at a now prestigious area known as 龍鳳峽 Lóng Fèng Xiá (translating to Dragon Phoenix Gorge) in the early 1980s. This area is superbly aspected due to elevation (1850 meters), crosswind activity, and latitude for growing exceptional high mountain oolong. Morning winds push clouds up the gorge to enshroud the highest slopes with a thick cloud cover nearly all day, subduing the growth of the leaves, producing thicker cell walled, mineral-rich, sweeter leaves with immense resiliency to strong brewing. The nearly perpetual mists attenuate photosynthesis so amino acids like l-theanine are not as readily converted to catechins, making for a dense, mellow, umami soupbroth that won’t give way to bitter flavors with astringent action in the mouth and throat.

To adequately display and give further life to the optimal conditions bestowed by this environment, highly cultivated tea processing acumen must be practiced. Because of the consistent moisture in the clouds, the most advanced withering and agitation regimens we’ve ever come across are being practiced at the top of Long Feng Xia in Shan Lin Xi. If the excessive moisture isn’t gently shepherded out of the leaves by multiple, specifically-timed steps, the batch will be considered spoiled.

Masters of these techniques, the Yung family allow us the taste the best high mountain teas the greater Shan Lin Xi can produce.

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The peak across the gorge called 草坔 Cǎo dì (1900 meters), the only place higher in Shan Lin Xi than the Yungs 17 acre operation (at 1850 meters) where I took this photo

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sufficient gentle agitation 浪菁 Làng jīng was an all day affair, and was considered successful when the leaves no longer smelled vegetal, but smelled sweeter and fruitier, like green apple.

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