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Highland Oolong, or High Mountain Oolong in English – this is a term that friends of good Oolong have certainly got in the way of. Especially the Taiwanese highlands of Oolonghave have already conquered many tea hearts. But what is Hochland Oolong? Why is it so special? Here at the Friends of Tea you can find out!

Where can You Find Highland Oolong?

The shortest answer would be: with us! But that would be too easy. The best known for highland tea is Taiwan. Here, many teas are not named after their variety or the tea garden, but after the mountain on which they grow. The most famous areas for highland tea in Taiwan are, for example, Alishan, Lishan, Da Yu Ling or Shan Lin Xi. All these areas are far away from large urban or industrial areas and are in a very natural climate.

Roughly it can be said that it is a highland tea from an altitude of 1000 meters above sea level. But we also find cultivation areas that are much higher, such as the Da Yu Ling area, which lies at a proud 2800 meters. From 3000 meters, however, it is over, from here it becomes too cold for the tea plants and the tea cultivation is only very difficult.

What is High Mountain Oolong? 1

An organic tea garden on Mount Lishan in Taiwan. Here it gets so steep that you need a monorail to get further up!

Why it drives tea to the mountains

Growing teas at high altitudes has several advantages. On the one hand, the higher the height, the higher the oxygen content in the air decreases, which causes the tea plants to grow more slowly. In the lowlands it is usually harvested up to four times a year, whereas in the highlands it is usually only three times or in the extremely high-lying areas only twice a year. In the mountains it is also much colder, which leads to the tea plants getting new shoots much later than their neighboring plants in the lowlands.

But from a purely economic perspective, it’s banal to want slow plant growth, isn’t it? This is quite right, anyone who is looking for the big money or wants to produce tea en masse is wrong here. Tea is very important in Taiwan and many tea producers here work with a lot of love and conviction. Because, the slower the plant growth, the better the plant can develop, so that aroma and taste in the final product is better and more tasty. Quality instead of quantity is the motto here.

Similarly, in the case of tea cultivation, as in the case of wine growing, it has an advantage to let the plants grow on steep mountain slopes. Here, the leaves only get sunlight half-day, which leads to fewer bitter substances being produced in the tea leaf. The mineral-rich soils then give the plants the extra portion of nutrients on top.

Do I really have highland tea in the cup? So you can do the self-test!

Take a good highland oolong – preferably our Shan Lin Xi – and gently swipe your finger over the poured tea leaves. You will notice that the tea leaves will feel velvety soft. This soft texture can only be achieved by growing at high altitudes. If it is a tea from the lowlands, the leaves will be much more robust and rougher.

I hope you enjoyed this little insight into the Taiwanese tea world!

What is High Mountain Oolong? 2