Gao Shan Amber GABA Oolong (高山佳葉龍烏龍茶) is a spectacular High Mountain oolong from Shibi Shan (石壁山) in Taiwan. Hailing from a relatively unknown terroir, it is a tea of a distinctive character and is the best quality GABA tea in our shop. Made from Qing Xin (青心) cultivar plants, it consists entirely of large hand picked leaves. The tea is carefully processed in an oxygen deprived environment to achieve about 80% oxidation level. It is one of the top teas for GABA content from Taiwan that we currently have. It was analysed by a Hungkuang University Laboratory in Taiwan and found to contain GABA content at a level of 196mg/100g. Produced by Mr Chen, we source this tea via a Taiwanese Tea Master. This current lot is from May 2021 harvest.
Our Gao Shan Amber GABA Oolong hails from Shibi Shan, Yunlin County. Grown at a high altitude garden in a biodynamic manner, this tea is produced to organic standards without use of artificial pesticides or fertilisers. Shibi Shan lies in between Alishan and Shan Lin Xi terroirs and is completely overshadowed by these famous and much more popular tea areas. As Shibi Shan is not as famous for tea growing, there are fewer tea gardens. There are also more forests, a much stronger desire for natural and biodynamic farming and a gentler, hillier landscape that is not as steep and rocky.
These factors combine here to produce teas with a character that is unique in itself and should truly be recognised and promoted as a separate terroir. However the teas from Shibi Shan are sold at much lower price as they are just not as famous. This is the same as the other great relatively unknown nearby terroir that is Meishan. Many vendors buy cheaper teas from Meishan and Shibi Shan to sell as Alishan, Shan Lin Xi or even Da Yu Ling. We always make sure that all our teas are correctly attributed to the exact places where they are grown, so we would never label this tea as one of the ‘other’, more famous terroirs. Instead we opt for the more neutral ‘Gao Shan’ moniker to signify that it is a High Mountain tea. We trust that our particularly discerning customers will be pleased and interested to know the exact terroir and to try something new!
This Gao Shan Amber GABA Oolong follows typical GABA processing: after picking the leaves are placed into a special deoxidation vacuum machine. During this processing oxygen is removed from the machine by replacing it with nitrogen and the tea is left to slowly oxidise in this unusual environment. The oxidation process happens very slowly due to lack of oxygen in the machine, increasing the GABA content and developing the characteristic GABA flavours. This also positively affects the tannins, greatly reducing them to produce a smoother, less astringent taste.
This tea comes in tightly rolled dark amber leaves. When brewed, they open up to reveal large leaves with tips, complete with plenty of stalk, which is a classic picking standard for Taiwan. The liquor produced has an attractive bright and clear appearance with an amber colour and a lovely fruity aroma. The flavours are typical of GABA teas, with plenty of fruity notes that are reminiscent of dry fruits such as sultanas and prunes. The high mountain nature manifests itself in the profile of this tea having a particularly complex and clean nature. The predominantly sweet fruity flavours are nicely balanced by some unusual rich red floral notes and a pleasant mineral aspect. There is also a savoury and tangy undercurrent running throughout. The aftertaste is tangy and mineral, with a mouth coating, lasting quality. As expected, the overall impression is smooth and comforting, with no astringency and minimal tannins.
It is best brewed at 90°C for 3-4 minutes according to your taste and should be brewed multiple times, increasing steeping time with each brew if desired.
This Gao Shan Amber GABA Oolong will be featured in our September 2020 Curious Tea Subscription Boxes.