Gao Shan Good

Living close to an H Mart has its advantages. They have a huge selection of cheaply priced produce, an amazing selection of fish (some of which I’ve even been brave enough to try), and a hefty number of noodle soups and sauces to choose from. They also have a really nice selection of tea. The only problem–much of the packaging is written in another language. H Mart is a busy international food grocery store which focuses on Asian food. But I love tea, and it’s a lot of fun trying new teas even if most of the packaging is indecipherable!

I’d been exploring green tea ’cause H Mart has been a veritable treasure trove of Japanese green teas, but the special little “english” sticker on a particular shiny gold packet said, “High Mountain Oolong Tea,” and that sounded rather intriguing. At about $10 for a 100g (3 oz) packet of tea, the price is pretty good for a nice Oolong. The shiny gold packet may have been optimal to protect the tea from light damage (and who doesn’t like shiny gold?), but it didn’t let me see what the tea looked like so I didn’t know if it would be a greener Oolong or more of a black Oolong like Wu Yi, the recently discontinued Eastern Beauty, or Teavana’s new Phoenix Mountain Dan Cong Oolong? I thought I’d find out.

This is a greener oolong with its own unique character. Gao Shan has its own little niche in the oolong flavor spectrum. It seemed really mild at first–similar character to the green oolongs like Jade Oolong or Iron Buddha Oolong, but more subtle. At first I wondered if it was just a lower quality or if it had been on the shelf for a long time, but I think neither may be the case. This tea has grown on me. Some teas brew up strong and let all their flavor out quickly. Some grow bitter if left to steep for too long. A few allow for a slower steep in which flavors grow and blossom over time without becoming bitter. Gao Shan Oolong falls into this latter category. Using about teaspoon of tea per cup of hot water, you could leave it in your cup sipping over the beautifully unfurled leaves. Then simply add more hot water for another cup. The flavor is slightly floral with a hint of green–not grassy green, but forest green with hints of nuts, moss and woods. The color in the cup it is a gentle light mossy green. Good for many multiple infusions. It’s lovely.


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