Shan Lin Xi Gui Fei Oolong (杉林溪貴妃烏龍茶) is an expressive Beauty Oolong from the famous Shan Lin Xi tea growing area of Nantou County in Taiwan. Grown at an altitude of 1,000-1,200 metres, this tea is crafted from ‘bug bitten’ leaves of the Qing Xin ‘Green Heart’ (青心) cultivar plants. Medium oxidation of about 45% combined with lower level of baking results in a balanced liquor with a captivating mi xian beauty flavour. This tea was harvested and processed in July 2020.
Shan Lin Xi (杉林溪) is an exceptional terroir located high in the mountains of Nantou Province. Although Alishan as a terroir may be more famous, it is without doubt that Shan Lin Xi produces high mountain (Gao Shan) oolong teas that are also considered to amongst the best from Taiwan. Shan Lin Xi can be literally translated as Pine Forest Stream from Chinese. However it is also commonly known as Sun Link Sea, an English phonetic approximation of the Chinese Shan Lin Xi, a process referred to as phono-semantic matching in linguistics. So both Sun Link Sea Oolong and Shan Lin Xi Oolong refer to teas from the same terroir. The gardens of Sun Link Sea terroir range in altitude between approximately 1,000 and 2,000 metres. The picturesque mountainous landscape is also home to Shanlinxi Forest Recreation Area, a popular destination for nature hiking that is known for its giant forest trees and waterfalls.
Gui Fei (貴妃) Oolong is classed as a ‘beauty tea’, which is an unusual class of tea that is affected by the presence of little green leaf hoppers. The leaf hoppers (Jacobiasca formosana) nibble the tea leaves during growth so the tea plants react to this attack by producing more polyphenols. During tea processing this produces a unique ‘beauty tea’ flavour (known as mi xian) that is usually described as having a honey-like taste and aroma. These teas also go by the Chinese name Dong Fang Mei Ren (東方美人), Eastern Beauty and Oriental Beauty, although the Gui Fei name is reserved exclusively for a rolled style of oolong.
Gui Fei Oolong itself is named after Yang Guifei, an Imperial Consort during the Tang Dynasty who is celebrated for her legendary beauty. Indeed, she is considered one of the Four Beauties of ancient China. When this new style of rolled beauty oolong was created around the Dong Ding area, the growers thought the Gui Fei name to be an apt description for this new tea style. And the new name still paid homage to the original Dong Fang Mei Ren name of beauty teas produced in northern Taiwan.
Our Shan Lin Xi Gui Fei Oolong consists of large hand picked and processed leaves that are tightly rolled. The medium oxidation means that the leaves are dark green in colour with darker brown colours from higher oxidation. Compared to our Award-Winning Gui Fei, or our Competition Grade Gui Fei, it is less oxidised, which leads to interesting results. Often Gui Fei has higher oxidation in order to bring out more sweetness in the tea, however this comes at the expense of the lighter floral flavours. We think this particular tea has a very fine balance. There are good floral notes that are characteristic of the Qing Xin cultivar. Nevertheless the bug-bitten beauty flavour also comes through with lovely sweet and honey notes.
This tea is highly aromatic, with a heady floral and honey aroma. The beauty mi xian taste is quite light but pronounced. There are some comforting lightly roasted notes that lead to more tangy and fruity top notes. The aftertaste is clean and lightly mineral with more floral flavours. Overall this is a very finely balanced tea that strikes the perfect combination of floral and wild honey flavours.
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. For best results, we recommend good quality filtered water and the gong fu brewing method.