Review: Canton Tea Co. Li Shan

Canton Tea Co., Oolong Tea Add comments
MaryAnn’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Classic high-grown Taiwanese mountain oolong, similar to Ali Shan, lightly oxidized."
MaryAnn’s Teaview: 7/10
Other Teaviews: Chantal gave it 9.5/10, Raven gave it 8.8/10, Melanie gave it 9.8/10, Katie gave it 8.7/10
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I was very excited to try this tea following a previous ecstatic experience with Canton Teas Ali Shan oolong. This is a classic high-grown Taiwanese mountain oolong, similar in style and flavor to Ali Shan, although grown at higher altitudes. Canton Teas tasting comments indicate notes of flowers and fruits, hints of peaches and lavender, with a rich, rounded buttery finish. As in the case of Ali Shan, Li Shan is a lightly oxidized tea, thus in some aspects resembling a green tea.

Dried leaves are tightly rolled balls of variegated dark green leaves. Aroma is a very subtle floral, similar to Ali Shan but less pronounced.

The Ali Shan packaging suggested brewing at a lower temperature than the web page directions. My Li Shan sample did not provide brewing directions on the package, so I decided to brew my first batch using the Ali Shan packaging directions, 2 gm (approximately ½ tsp.) tea in 8 oz. water at 176F for two minutes. Leaves unfolded slowly. I eagerly anticipated something like floral aroma and buttery taste of the Ali Shan. However, the resulting liquor more resembled a high quality green tea, perhaps slightly sweeter than usual, with very little oolong qualities. I continued this experiment through two more brewings, with similar results. Very little floral aroma, light green liquor, predominant green tea taste. Hmmm. Perhaps in this case, one would do well to follow the web page brewing directions.

The following evening I brewed a second batch using 1 tsp. of tea to 8 oz. water at 195F for two minutes. The leaves unfolded much more quickly, as you’d expect. This was exciting. I was sure that doubling the amount of dry tea and increasing the temperature would bring out the flowers and fruits, with hints of peaches and lavender. However, the result was nearly identical to the previous night’s brewing, just with more leaves. I still seemed to be brewing a nice green tea. Stubbornly, I took this experiment through a second and third brewing, with little change.

I’m relatively certain that my experience with Li Shan indicates that I’m not yet sophisticated enough to appreciate the tea. I came to oolongs in an effort to broaden my horizons beyond my love of Darjeeling and Assam teas. Possibly I erred in my brewing technique but this seems less likely given my great success with the Ali Shan. There’s a third possibility – that with teas this subtle there is a great deal of variability in an individual’s ability to taste nuances, but I fear that still takes us back to a certain lack on the part of the tea taster. My apologies to what I suspect is an outstanding subtle Oolong.

— To purchase Canton Tea Co. Li Shan, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: MaryAnn MaryAnn
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