This is a very unusual Ali Shan oolong from Chiayi County in Taiwan. Hong oolong is a new style of tea created by a group of tea farmers in 2008 to overcome some of the challenges that green oolong producers face – such as short storage time and strong dependency on weather. Hong oolong is processed in a similar manner to high mountain oolongs, but is oxidised to a much higher degree, giving this tea the floral complexity of a traditional oolong together with the ripe fruit sweetness of a red tea.
This Ali Shan Hong oolong is grown at 1,100m altitude, which means long winter, low night temperature, strong morning sun and afternoon mist. Tea at such elevation grows slowly and has more time to develop great complexity and strong flavour.
The dark, tightly rolled leaves of Ali Shan Hong oolong yield clear red amber colour infusion with an aroma of ripe fruits and brown sugar. Full bodied, rich and fruity liquor with hints of blackcurrant and juniper berries, complex sweetness of raw chocolate and molasses; this tea feels smooth and silky on the palate with a long lasting aftertaste.
Ali Shan Hong oolong is an easy to prepare and easy to drink tea. The warming quality makes it particularly suitable for cold and wet days. Gong-fu style brewing is highly recommended to get the most of its layered nature – see below for brewing guidelines. Ali Shan Hong oolong can also be used for cold brewing to produce a sweet and fruity chilled tea with less tannins and caffeine.