Alishan is famous for its high-mountain oolong tea. It is a broad area with many distinct oolong tea producing areas. Two of the most famous of the Alishan tea areas are Zhong Shu Hu and Shi Zuo. Mount Ali is one of the most popular tourist areas in Taiwan. It is rich in scenic beauty and features fresh air and clear mountain passes. The narrow gauge railway built by the Japanese is famous throughout the world. Wood from Mount Ali is highly prized. Some say it carries the spirit of the mountain, and for this reason is sought after for making ancestral tablets that almost every Taiwanese family possesses. The oolong tea growing areas are situated between 1000 and 2300 meters in attitude. The high mountain conditions offer plenty of fog and low temperatures which are ideal for oolong tea, and the water used for irrigation is from pure mountain springs. Mount Ali tea is characterized by its sweet fragrance with overtones of flowers and fruit. Our Four Season oolong tea is a fine representative of Alishan oolong tea.
Fruit plantations were the mainstay of the Zhong Shu Hu area for many years. Orchards are still in abundance, but the economic hardships involved in raising fruit caused many land owners to switch to oolong tea plantations. Oolong tea has been produced in the Zhong Shu Hu area for more than 20 years and is one of the most respected oolong teas in Taiwan. The climate is ideal for oolong tea. The air is cool and moist year round. These conditions assure that Zhong Shu Hu oolong tea is of the highest quality.
Zhong Shu Hu has an elevation between 1300 and 1800 meters with a cool foggy climate. The oolong tea produced here has a lustrous colour and the leaves are soft to the touch. Zhong Shu Hu produces plums as well as high quality oolong tea. Indeed, the oolong tea plantations are interspersed with orchards and some say the fruity aspect of Zhong Shu Hu oolong tea comes from the close proximity of these two plants. Zhong Shu Hu oolong tea has a fresh, enchanting taste which leaves a mellow taste in the mouth. This oolong tea is a frequent winner in tea competitions making it expensive and hard to find on the consumer market. We are pleased to be able to offer it here.
Shi Zuo means "Stone Table" in Chinese. The name comes from a natural megalith discovered by early immigrants to the area. The stone has taken on legendary significance and is sometimes called the Stone of Understanding. Unfortunately, it was damaged during development of the area and is now only a quarter of its former size. This area is situated about 1300 to 1500 meters in altitude. The soil is a deep red color and rich in nutrients. This combined with the mountainous climate produces ideal conditions for oolong tea. Since roads to the area only began to be developed in 1983, it is a relatively new area for oolong tea production.
In the 1980s a new variety of tea called Wu Long Wei was planted extensively in the Shi Zuo area. It turned out to be ideal for the conditions in the area and there is now about 350 hectares of this oolong tea in production. Shi Zuo oolong tea is grown and marketed with the help of a farmer's coop that sets standards for the quality of the tea as well as the processing methods. Shi Zuo tea is hand picked and hand processed and uses a unique fire curing method that produces an instantly identifiable taste. The Wu Long Wei variety has an elliptical shape and jagged edges. When it is ready to pick it the leaves form an overlap of 3 leaves. It is these top three leaves which are picked for the highest quality oolong tea. Tea plantations at Shi Zuo are situated on hillsides that provide optimal distribution of moisture provided by night time fog. Plants are kept between 80 and 90 centimeters in height in order to facilitate picking and giving access to the crown of the plant where the choicest leaves are growing. The small leaf of this plant lends itself to oolong tea production. The outer edges of the plant have slightly elongated leaves with a purplish heart. The Shi Zuo area is near the town of Tseng Wenhsi. Also in the area are the Eight Palm brooks - a major watershed which drains the southern part of the Central Mountain Range including the famous Yu Shan (Jade Mountain) - the highest peak in Taiwan.