Yushan Light Baked Qing Xin Oolong (玉山青心烏龍) is a complex tea that is grown around Yushan (Jade Mountain) in Xinyi Township of Nantou Province. Made from the Qing Xin cultivar plants, this tea undergoes light baking that was done by our tea master together with us during our June 2023 visit to Taiwan. This allows the tea to develop a fuller flavour with more complex notes that range from floral and creamy to slightly toasty, baked ones that are very satisfying and comforting. This particular tea is grown to organic standards and was handpicked in May 2023.
Yushan Light Baked Qing Xin Oolong comes from the garden of Mr Chen, located in the Yushan Mountain tea growing area at an altitude of about 1,500-1,600 metres. Mr Chen runs the garden to natural farming standards, hence this tea is organic, but not certified organic. The garden itself is completely surrounds by dense forests for kilometres around, which means that there is no possible cross contamination from other gardens. The remote nature of the garden means that it is difficult to get to but that contributes to making this tea very natural and clean.
The vast majority of oolong teas grown at high altitude in Taiwan are made from the Qing Xin ‘Green Heart’ (青心) cultivar plants. This is true of most Sun Link Sea oolong teas as well. This particular Yushan Qing Xin Oolong is also made from hand-picked leaves of Green Heart cultivar plants. They are picked in mid-April, and come in classic tightly rolled leaf shape. The oxidation level is approximately 10-15% and the baking level is 2/10. This results in a beautiful floral aroma and character that Taiwanese high mountain oolong teas are famous for.
This particular Yushan Oolong was custom baked for us by our Taiwanese tea master during our visit to Taiwan in June 2023. This kind of light baking is a popular way of making the flavours more concentrated and complex. It also has the added benefit of making the tea more stable, improving the shelf life and keeping it fresher for longer. For this particular bake, it lasted about 16 hours. The baking process starts at lower temperature or around 60°C and as temperature is gradually increased, the time at each higher temperature mark is decreased. The final bake was 110°C for just 10 minutes.
During the bake the flavours of the tea change quite dramatically. The fresh tea starts off being quite verdant, a little floral but almost closer to a green tea. As the baking progresses, the tea flavours become very dull and greatly diminish. After the middle phase as the temperature starts increasing, more baked flavours start coming out but overall it still remains quite dull. The final high heat phases really make the flavours sing, with all floral and creamy flavours really popping up and the baked taste commingling with them to create this complex, lightly baked flavour.
Yushan Light Baked Qing Xin Oolong consists of tightly rolled leaves of varying sizes. It produces a bright clear liquor with a baked floral aroma. The taste is green and verdant with a lightly herbaceous edge. The dominant flavours are baked, floral and creamy. It has a very sweet quality and nutty, almond note. The aftertaste is clean, refreshing but the baking adds a certain comforting edge. This tea is a great showcase how careful, considered baking can add complexity and flavour.
This tea is best brewed at 90°C for 2-3 minutes according to your taste, brewing multiple times. It can be brewed 3+ times depending on your taste preferences. To get the most out this tea, consider using a gaiwan or a traditional clay pot to benefit from the complexity of flavours from repeated multiple infusions. For gong fu brewing we suggest using 6g per 100ml at 95c. Optional 2-3 second rinse, 1st infusion 25s, add 5s to each further infusion. Gong fu style brewing should get many, many infusions from this lovely tea!