If you love high mountain tea, you know Alishan, Lishan and maybe a couple of other tea mountains that are famous in Taiwan as production areas of high mountain tea. If you were asked what the highest mountain in Taiwan was would you say “Yu Shan" (Jade Mountain)? If you lived in Taiwan you would, and you would be right!
Two of many amazing things about Taiwan are its tea culture and its mountains. There is a different specialty tea grown in every region of the island and only a few are famous and therefore available outside of Taiwan. The island country of Taiwan is 75% mountains and practically each of these regions has its tea growing area.
This medium roast oolong is grown at an elevation of 1600m on the slopes of Yu Shan, Taiwan’s highest mountain. It is called Jiao Tang Oolong which means “Carmel” Oolong. The name refers to the flavor it derives through the roasting process. This tea is quite similar to Dong Ding oolong in the level of oxidation and roasting and even its flavor approaches that of Dong Ding. Despite the similarities this tea has a smoother, cleaner flavor. Not quite as rich and robust as Dong Ding this tea is always smooth with mellow roasted flavor.
Jiao Tang Oolong is produced from Qin Xing Oolong variety tea leaves. Its dry leaves have a lightly roasted, malty fragrance. After rinsing in hot water the fragrance becomes rich, malty, nutty with notes of buttered grain, light chocolate with just a hint of a fragrance of green leaves. The tea itself is Sweet, malty, nutty, and buttery with a hint of caramel. The mouthfeel is cleaner, lighter and smoother than Dong Ding. Jiao Tang Oolong finishes with a nice clean aftertaste in the throat.
The farmer who grows and produces this tea continues to win many awards for best new tea as well as awards for his charity work in donating money to needy children. In my experience the tea farmers who really care about their tea, the environment and about their customers produce better tea than those big business farms. I think Jiao tang Oolong and the other teas by this grower Yu Shan Black Tea and Competition Oolong are good examples of this. Jiao Tang Oolong is not a traditional variety of Taiwanese tea, but a new tea variety based on combining the best of traditional methods in an attempt to come up with something new.