Ali Mountain (Alishan) Tea is an oolong tea grown high in the mountains of central Taiwan. The high elevations result in much hardier leaves with a higher concentration of flavor-producing components. Alishan tea has a light orchid aroma and a slightly sweet, yet complex flavor with a hint of fruits and flowers and a light creaminess.
Where to buy
Alishan high mountain tea can usually be found in specialty tea shops or through a number of online tea vendors. If you are unsure where to begin, you can check out some of my recommendations below.
How to Prepare Alishan Tea
The preparation instructions given here are for loose leaf teas. For tea bags, you can just follow the instructions given on the box.
The ideal brewing temperature is 90-95ºC (194-205ºF), which is just below the boiling point. You can just boil the water using a simple stove-top kettle and then let it cool for 30 seconds.
If you plan on trying a lot of varieties of tea and/or coffee it might be worth it to invest in a water boiler/warmer or an electric kettle with a variable temperature setting. Personally, I recommend this Cuisinart kettle, because it has presets for every type of tea, so you always get the perfect temperature:
Ali Mountain tea is best brewed in a porcelain vessel, like a gaiwan
or in a traditional yixing, a teapot made from a purple clay.
- Fill both the teapot and the cup about halfway with hot water to preheat them. Tilt them a bit so that the water creeps up the side and then rotate them so the insides get wet all the way around. Then pour the water out.
- Put 3 teaspoons of tea leaves into the teapot. If using a different vessel, use 3 teaspoons for every 8 oz. (236 ml) of water.
- Fill the teapot with 90-95ºC (194-205ºF) water.
- Place the lid on the teapot and let the tea steep for 1 minute.
- Pour the tea into the teacups and enjoy your tea!
- You can get 5-8 infusions out of most varieties. Increase the steeping time 30 seconds or so for each infusion. How many infusions you do depends entirely on your taste. Experiment.
Use the amounts given in these instructions as a rough guide. If you find the resulting tea too weak, add more tea leaves; if it is too strong, reduce the amount of leaves used. Similarly, try increasing or decreasing the steeping times.
The best purchase I’ve found online is the Superfine Taiwan Ali Shan from Teavivre. Adagio Teas’ Formosa Ali Shan is actually a higher quality tea, but naturally, the price is also quite a bit higher. Personally, I don’t feel the increase in quality matches the increase in price, which is why I prefer the Ali Shan from Teavivre. That’s probably just a matter of personal taste, though.