2022 Summer Xue Li from Gankou, southern Taiwan
Cultivar: Xue Li
Harvested by hand on June 6th, 2022
Origin: Gankou, southern Taiwan
Testing parameters: 2 grams, 6 minutes brew, boiling water.
Background: Records for this Gankou tea go back to 1876. Originally, this tea cultivar, Xue Li (snow pear) comes from Anxi, Fujian. Here, in the south of Taiwan, the plantation is located in the Gankou village and faces the Pacific ocean. The climate conditions are very tough: strong sunshine, little rain and strong winds. Between the tea bushes, dry wood and leaves provide a protection for the soil and help retain the moisture. This also helps to prevent weed naturally. The process for this tea is also unusual for Taiwan: green tea instead of Oolong! As expected, this green tea tastes quite differently than most green teas.
The leaves are rather small, but of varying sizes and contain few tips. The reason is the warm weather near the ocean makes the leaves grow very quickly. The June harvest is called 'June White' (Liu Yue Bai), because its dry leaves are particularly light in color. The open leaves show little to no sign of oxidation and confirm it's indeed a green tea process. The brew is orange, because of the heat during the growth of the leaves and the process does cause some oxidation.
2. The scents
Usually, green tea is a tribute to maximum freshness and finesse. This Xue Li is still a green tea, but the opposite. Instead of a fresh green scent, it exudes a scent of warm sunshine. The brew has scents of seaweed!
3. The taste
The taste is a little salty and has a lot of body for a green tea, but little finesse. But it has a unique character that is a mix of sunshine and sea, the most southern tea made in Taiwan.
Conclusion: The farmer told me that the 5 ladies that help him harvest the tea each month have a combined age of 400 years! And the farmer isn't very young either. I'm afraid there won't be anyone to take over the plantation when he's gone. And this despite the natural beauty of this unique plantation !