by Cassandra Vincent
Adagio Teas are known for a wide variety of choices from over 10,000 fandom tea blends created by fans of the brand all the way to a Masters collection of single origin, high quality teas. I have reviewed some of their fun Doctor Who themed fandom blends that I have enjoyed. This time I broke out the yixing teapot to explore their version of Formosa Ali Shan.
Note: Did you know that Formosa means shapely/beautiful and was the name given to Taiwan by early Portuguese explorers upon seeing the island: Formosa insula ‘beautiful island’. The name remains to describe this oolong – beautiful indeed!
Adagio Teas are known for a wide variety of choices from over 10,000 fandom tea blends created by tea and entertainment lovers all the way to a Masters collection of single origin, high quality teas. I have reviewed some of their fun Doctor Who themed fandom blends that I have enjoyed. This time I broke out the Yixing teapot to explore their version of Formosa Ali Shan.
A little background quickie – the Portuguese explorers that deemed Taiwan ‘Formosa Insula’ or Beautiful Island’ did so in the 1500s. Dutch and later Chinese influence grew Taiwan into a unique tea producing nation. Tea crops became a significant trade for Taiwan in the late 1700s. Being a small country with unique topography, Taiwan teas focus on quality over quantity with some regions limiting harvesting to twice a year due to elevation. Through the island’s varied history of influence from other tea producing countries Taiwan eventually settled on producing mostly oolongs and quality ones.
Ali Shan is considered a High Mountain Oolong – there are many teas that fall into this distinction which is for those teas grown at 3,300 feet above sea level or higher. Fewer harvests, rarer tea, greater price and I find it is often quite worth it.
This is considered a green oolong. Though that sounds like a contradiction I learned it is due to processing that uses lighter amount of oxidation than other darker oolongs resulting in a character that rests between green and oolong categories having aspects of each. Nice!
Even dry the leaves gave off buttery and floral notes with a bit of vegetal depth, though lighter than other oolongs I’ve had. During my first steep (3 minutes) the leaves gave off a big buttery nose reminiscent of a milk oolong with a softness. In taste I received both the floral (like lilacs) and butter aspects equally. I thought it was very smooth and round and satisfying. In comparison to lower grade Ali Shan’s I’ve had this was fuller with much more in the way of buttery scent and flavor and overall complexity.
This is a pearl tea where the leaves are rolled into a ball-like shape as opposed to other oolongs that are twisted. They are beautiful leaves with varying shades of green. I have found that pearl teas often don’t give up their full flavor until the second or third steep when they have ‘opened up’ more.
I did a second steep for 5 minutes and found that the tea was even more floral though the butter aspect lessened a bit. I had a nice buzz on the tongue on this steeping. This tea will give flavor over multiple steeps – 4 or more depending on your taste. That makes the price point more agreeable. I would drink this again. I shared it with some friends who had never had this kind or level of oolong and they truly enjoyed it. Thanks to Adagio Teas for providing the tea for this exploration.
If you haven’t yet tried a rarer tea I encourage you to expand your experience. Some companies, like Adagio, offer sample sizes enabling you to try a higher price point tea without having to make a large size (and cost) commitment.
I wish you ongoing joyous adventures in great tea!
All opinions are my own. This is not a paid or affiliate post.
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