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|Other names||Kao-shan tea
High mountain tea
|Quick description||Light oolong varieties with sweet, milky flavors and floral aromas|
High-mountain tea or gaoshan tea (Chinese: 高山茶; pinyin: gāoshān chá; pronounced [káu.ʂán ʈʂʰǎ]) refers to several varieties of oolong tea grown in the mountains of central Taiwan. It is grown at altitudes higher than 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) above sea level, and includes varieties such as Alishan, Wu She, Li Shan and Yu Shan. The high humidity and natural precipitation in the high mountain ranges of Nantou and Chiayi Counties make the region a suitable environment for growing tea plants.
Gaoshan tea leaves are usually hand harvested, and grow slowly due to the thin air in high altitudes. Hence, the yield of gaoshan tea is relatively low every year. There are two kinds of gaoshan tea based on the season: winter gaoshan is harvested during late October, and spring gaoshan is harvested during the middle of June.
It takes about 36 to 40 hours to process a batch of gaoshan tea. If weather allows, the handplucked leaves are spread on top of a tarp, where they develop aromas such as jasmine, rose and geranium. The tea is folded to bruise the leaf for oxidation and is then transferred to another tray to ferment and wither for eight hours. It is then packaged as "handkerchief tea", where farmers emphasize on the quality of the tea rather than the quantity.
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