The focus of today’s Hē Chá Tea Spotlight segment is our Mount Ali Milk Oolong Tea.
We at Hē Chá Tea are very proud of our Mount Ali Milk Oolong tea. It is the only tea that we currently offer that is pure, unflavored, unscented, unblended tea leaves. This simple fact also makes our Mount Ali Milk Oolong different than many other milk oolongs available in the U.S. Many milk oolongs are flavored, giving them a buttered popcorn scent, and a strong buttery taste. The problem with this is that the tea leaves used are usually of lower quality and most times do not even come from the type of tea bush that traditional milk oolongs originated from (more on that below). The result is a milk oolong by name only. A true milk oolong does not need flavoring to give it a milky, creamy smell and taste.
What is a “true” milk oolong, then? A true milk oolong comes from a specific cultivar of tea bushes that was originally developed in Taiwan by the Taiwan Tea Experiment Stations back in the 1980s. That cultivar is named Jin Xuan (or Chin Xuan). The technical number given to it by the Taiwan Tea Experiment Station is TTES #12. A true Jin Xuan milk oolong has naturally occurring chemical compounds, called lactones, which give it a naturally milky, creamy smell, as well as a buttery texture to the tea liquid. Thus, a true milk oolong does not need the flavoring. It tastes and feels unique and enjoyable all by itself.
Our Mount Ali Milk Oolong is just that, a true Jin Xuan milk oolong! We source our Jin Xuan milk oolong tea from Mei Shan Township, in Chiayi County, Taiwan. Grown in the Ali Mountains (Alishan) at an altitude of about 3,900 feet above sea level (1,300 meters), our Mount Ali Milk Oolong is considered a high mountain oolong tea. Photo shown below of a tea plantation in the Alishan region is courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
Upon opening a canister of our Mount Ali Milk Oolong, you will notice the unique scent of milk or cream. Some additional smelling will unveil scents of brown sugar, molasses, and a light floral touch. The dry leaves are in the semi-ball shape, which is typical of oolong teas from Taiwan. These dry leaves are hand-plucked, and masterfully processed to produce such a shape and smell.
We suggest that our Mount Ali Milk Oolong be brewed using the following parameters. Use one teaspoon (about three grams) of dry tea leaves for every eight ounces (225 ml) of water to be used in your pot or mug. For example, if you have a large pot that will hold thirty-two ounces (950 ml) of water, then you will want to use four teaspoons (about 12 grams) of dry tea leaves. Bring the water to a boil, then remove the kettle from the heat source. Allow the water to cool for a minute to a temperature of about 195°F (90°C). Pour the hot water on the tea leaves, and allow the leaves to steep for 1:30 minutes, then remove the leaves from water using a mesh colander, or any type of straining device. Please note that these tea leaves may be reused at least three to four times over a twenty-four hour period.
Once the tea leaves have been strained from the liquid, you will notice a bright, pale greenish-yellow liquor. The liquor is perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma consists of milk or cream, light orchids, and light brown sugar scents. It is a delicate and pleasant aroma. As the tea liquor touches the lips and tongue, you will notice the milky, velvety texture, which is unique to Jin Xuan oolong tea. This tea has a medium body. The taste consists of a floral (orchid) note, with light notes of cream, brown sugar, and very light cooked green vegetable. The liquor feels as though it coats the tongue and throat as it is swallowed, finishing with a strong floral essence being left on the breath.
NOTE: A strong cooked vegetable taste may occur if the water is too hot, or the tea has been steeping for too long. For the best taste and aroma, pay close attention to the water temperature and time.
For a full review of the Mount Ali Milk Oolong by the Tea Journeyman, please click here.
The taste balances and evolves nicely with the second, third, and fourth infusions. You will notice that some tastes seem to strengthen, while others weaken, giving each infusion its own unique character. The one sensation that will remain through all infusions is the lasting floral essence. After three or four infusions, some of the leaves in your pot will look like those shown below.
Yes, these large, unbroken leaves that have the stem fully intact were once those relatively small semi-ball shapes. What is unique about oolong teas from Taiwan is the plucking standard that the farmers use. You will find many stems that have three or four leaves attached to it. This plucking standard is rare to come across outside of Taiwan. The Jin Xuan bush produces leaves that are both long and broad, as you will easily notice. It’s teas like this Mount Ali Milk Oolong that can truly be eye-opening in terms of quality when compared to tea in teabags. If you have some of our Jasmine Pearls tea around, brew a cup for a few infusions, then compare the wet leaves to the Mount Ali Milk Oolong. You will see the difference between the standard Chinese pluck (one bud and two leaves) and the standard Taiwan oolong pluck (three to four leaves).
Currently, our Mount Ali Milk Oolong tea is available in one ounce twist top canisters, and being served at reputable coffee shops, bakeries, and other businesses in and around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You may also find this product on Amazon. We will soon be offering four ounce retail packets, also. Check back often, or simply subscribe to the Hē Chá Tea blog, for up-to-date information regarding our products, locations, upcoming events, and other news.
Thank you for taking your time to learn about our Mount Ali Milk Oolong Tea. If you have any questions regarding this product, please leave a comment, or contact Hē Chá Tea. Please do not forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. While you are there, follow our Certified Tea Specialist, the Tea Journeyman (http://www.teajourneyman.com). Cheers!