Characteristics of good gaoshan?

Semi-oxidized tea
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Rickpatbrown
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Tue Mar 26, 2019 10:09 pm

Tillerman wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:20 am

1. Rickpatbrown when you ask about "gaoshan" I assume you mean the low oxidized, unroasted style that is most common. There are other (and dare I say, more enjoyable) styles that have a higher level of oxidation and some roasting. Be that as it may, good gaoshan of any style has a richness of character that is unique. Your finding "buttery" notes is generally an indicator of quality in winter teas (i agree with Bok ) - unless you have a sinus problem for it can result from that too.

3. "Lower quality gaoshan usually isn't gaoshan" - a very good guiding principal from Bok.

4. Rickpatbrown The early harvest of true gaoshan tea is still nearly a month off. I'd be very suspicious of anything released next week.

Rickpatbrown, the fun is in exploring and learning to discern quality as you gain experience. And if at all possible, talk to growers and merchants in Taiwan. With that and tasting, you're well on your way.
Thanks Tillerman.
1) Yes. I am refering to unroasted, low oxidation, high mountain, Tawainese oolong (Lishan, Alishan, Hehuan, Dayuling, etc.) If this definition is off, please let me know. I was kind of shocked to get so much butteriness from even the lower grade tea.
Sinus problems ADD butteriness?? I would think the opposite. Interesting.

3. Bok ... this is interesting. So the term "gaoshan" implies excellence in addition to the tea's origin and processing? I really need to learn chinese. My fiance makes fun of me since all my chinese words are centered around tea :lol:

4. So more investigation leads me to believe that it's the lower elevation that will be available soon. It also depends a lot on the weather, but I don't know how it's been in southern Taiwan. I know the farmers say the first batches are coming soon.

I agree. This is a lot of fun! It's a lot of expensive, too! The hard part is that I am in regular physical contact with 0 people who know about tea. The best I can do is ask question online.

I've had a few very informative meetings with knowledgable souls in the past year. I learned more in the 5 hours I spent with them drinking tea, than I have in 100's of hours online and randomly buying from every person selling tea online.
I'm heading up to NYC in April to take a class with Shiuwen from Floating Leaves. I'm really looking forward to that!

Thanks everyone for the all the info. This journey will lead to some transcendental pots of tea, but its gonna take a lot of work.
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Tillerman
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Tue Mar 26, 2019 11:23 pm

Rickpatbrown wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 10:09 pm
I'm heading up to NYC in April to take a class with Shiuwen from Floating Leaves. I'm really looking forward to that!
I met Shuiwen at last year's Northwest Tea Festival; she is great - ask lots of questions. I've also been lucky enough to have tried so of her teas and they are first rate. You should have a super time.
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Victoria
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Wed Mar 27, 2019 12:01 am

Tillerman wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 11:23 pm
Rickpatbrown wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 10:09 pm
I'm heading up to NYC in April to take a class with Shiuwen from Floating Leaves. I'm really looking forward to that!
I met Shuiwen at last year's Northwest Tea Festival; she is great - ask lots of questions. I've also been lucky enough to have tried so of her teas and they are first rate. You should have a super time.
While you are in NYC, I hope you make time to visit Teresa at Te Company in West Village. She has a very good selection of Taiwan oolong, and her Portuguese husband is a chef, so food pairing is great at lunch. Her Oriental Beauty Grand is super excellent, when she has LiShan it’s buttery rich, very special light roasted oolong, and a broad spectrum of very high quality oxidized oolong. Floating Leaves specialty is also LiShan, Bai Hao, ShanLinXi, Baozhong. Neither excell at high roasted oolong, in my experience (so far). These two procure top quality Taiwan oolong.
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Rickpatbrown
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Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:34 am

Victoria- I met Shuiwen in Seattle, briefly and she was really great. The class I'm attending will be focused on Dong Ding. There is nice video on Floating Leaves site that leads me to believe she is very focused on Dong Ding, so I hope that we see some really nice teas in this category coming from her in the future.

Dong Ding is almost always roasted, right? I would not put this in the gaoshan category.

Hopefully, I'll have time to visit those other shops you mentioned.

Do you know anyone in Baltimore/DC area that knows about tea?
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Shine Magical
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Wed Mar 27, 2019 10:44 am

I’ve had unroasted Ding Ding but it’s definitely an abnormality (and the one I had wasn’t worth trying). I don’t think anyone would classify it as gaoshan.
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Victoria
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Wed Mar 27, 2019 11:47 am

Rickpatbrown wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:34 am
Victoria- I met Shuiwen in Seattle, briefly and she was really great. The class I'm attending will be focused on Dong Ding. There is nice video on Floating Leaves site that leads me to believe she is very focused on Dong Ding, so I hope that we see some really nice teas in this category coming from her in the future.

Dong Ding is almost always roasted, right? I would not put this in the gaoshan category.

Hopefully, I'll have time to visit those other shops you mentioned.

Do you know anyone in Baltimore/DC area that knows about tea?
Over the years I’ve only had two DongDing from Floating Leaves and my notes are thin, meaning neutral response, but that was a few years ago. I know Shuiwen has been working on a DongDing documentary since then, so I would think her focus and access to higher quality must be better.

I’ve had unroasted DongDing but didn’t really enjoy it. I’ve also had roasted gaoshan that was stellar; roasted DaYuLing and roasted LiShan both from HY Chen, both incredibly good.

I don’t know any other tea drinkers in DC/Maryland. Maybe next time I’m in Annapolis we can coordinate a get together. Try and go to Te Company, it is very small but a special place to experience. Also, if you can, visit Te Shop and Pu’erh Brooklyn. Looking forward to hearing about your NYC trip and DongDing workshop.
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Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:01 pm

Rickpatbrown wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:34 am
Victoria- I met Shuiwen in Seattle, briefly and she was really great. The class I'm attending will be focused on Dong Ding. There is nice video on Floating Leaves site that leads me to believe she is very focused on Dong Ding, so I hope that we see some really nice teas in this category coming from her in the future.

Dong Ding is almost always roasted, right? I would not put this in the gaoshan category.

Hopefully, I'll have time to visit those other shops you mentioned.

Do you know anyone in Baltimore/DC area that knows about tea?
Dong Ding can be both roasted and unroasted. It is typically a slightly higher oxidation than most gaoshan. Some Dong Ding comes from high enough mountains to be classified as "gaoshan".

Processing and flavor profile is very different than gaoshan though.

To Victoria's point about Floating Leaves - she is very focused on Dong Ding, but she has been working with the same farmer for several years, so I don't believe the quality of the leaves (good or bad) has changed recently.
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Rickpatbrown
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Wed Mar 27, 2019 2:18 pm

Victoria wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 11:47 am
I don’t know any other tea drinkers in DC/Maryland. Maybe next time I’m in Annapolis we can coordinate a get together. Try and go to Te Company, it is very small but a special place to experience. Also, if you can, visit Te Shop and Pu’erh Brooklyn. Looking forward to hearing about your NYC trip and DongDing workshop.
Thanks, Victoria! Yes, let me know next time you are around.
And, I'll definitely let you know how the workshop goes.
Last edited by Victoria on Wed Mar 27, 2019 2:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Mod edit: corrected quotes
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Bok
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Thu Mar 28, 2019 11:37 pm

chofmann wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:01 pm
To Victoria's point about Floating Leaves - she is very focused on Dong Ding, but she has been working with the same farmer for several years, so I don't believe the quality of the leaves (good or bad) has changed recently.
Not necessarily. Most tea vendors I met, do not give out their very best teas until a few years of good relationship have passed. Guanxi ;)
Teachronicles
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Thu Mar 28, 2019 11:46 pm

I really enjoy the current iteration of her charcoal dong ding (exactly how it's called on the site). Also, a favorite of mine and many in my circle, is her 4 roast dong ding which is not available currently. That tea is actually the first tea that I was "addicted" too, in that I drank it all the time. I also enjoy the dong ding traditional A. She's also had interesting teas in her live session packs, some I wish she sold more of. All this to say, don't count out floating leaves dong ding or roasted teas.
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Bok
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Fri Mar 29, 2019 12:00 am

Shine Magical wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 10:44 am
I’ve had unroasted Ding Ding but it’s definitely an abnormality (and the one I had wasn’t worth trying). I don’t think anyone would classify it as gaoshan.
Real Dongding teas are mid-lower elevation tea leaves, so per definition not high mountain. I'd expect green DD not tasting spectacular compared to higher elevation leaves. Usually low elevation Taiwan tea is grassy, flat and has very little endurance. The same leaves processed in the Dongding fashion or as Black/Red tea is a whole different story.

Yet, Hojo states that real green Dongding is very rare and indeed nice tea. Have not (knowingly) had the pleasure, so I can not confirm if there is truth in his statement.
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Baisao
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Sat Mar 30, 2019 2:27 am

I’ve been unimpressed with Floating Leaves. I don’t understand where all the love comes from.

I’ve become discouraged by my fellow tea US drinkers. I think most people outside of without very good connections know what good Taiwanese teas taste like. Insult to injury, people don’t really drink tea. They consume a warm beverage while distracted by work, video games, or ecstatic dance, etc.

With this kind of tea culture it is no wonder tea appreciation in the US is in the sorry state it is in. Consequently, mediocre and bad tea gets hyped.
swordofmytriumph
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Sat Mar 30, 2019 3:24 am

Ive really enjoyed all the stuff I’ve gotten from floating leaves so far. In particular, the Hehuan Shan from last spring was especially good. Definitely going to get a full bag if they have it again this year.

All this talk of Floating Leaves has inspired me to go there later today. They just posted a new listing for some aged dong ding from 1998 that looks sublime, gotta get me some of that. :)
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Rickpatbrown
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Sat Mar 30, 2019 7:52 am

Baisao wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 2:27 am
I’ve been unimpressed with Floating Leaves. I don’t understand where all the love comes from.
I'm not sure how many teas you've tried. Of course there are some unispriring ones, but I've had some pretty nice ones (Lishan and Hehuan). I've gotten some duds, too.

Generally, they are a reasonably priced US distributor with decent tea. We dont have a lot to choose from in the US.

I was introduced to tea through Teavanna. If you had the chance to go there, you know what the US has in mind with "high end" tea. Things havent really improved, except they closed their stores. That was an improvement.

You're right that the tea culture stinks in the US. I'm constantly trying to turn people on to tea, but it never seems to stick. They think the tea is good, but I think are intimidated by how different it is, especially the preparation.

In keeping with the thread topic ... I'd say another "characteristic of good gaoshan" is that prices are 50 cents to a dollar per gram in the US. This doesn't help spread tea culture.
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Tillerman
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Sat Mar 30, 2019 10:52 am

Rickpatbrown wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 7:52 am
Baisao wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 2:27 am
I’ve been unimpressed with Floating Leaves. I don’t understand where all the love comes from.
In keeping with the thread topic ... I'd say another "characteristic of good gaoshan" is that prices are 50 cents to a dollar per gram in the US. This doesn't help spread tea culture.
@Baisao I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him (or her.) One of the real difficulties in assessing tea is distinguishing between preference and quality; and none of us does this particularly well. I certainly have my stylistic preferences in the teas that I choose; Shiuwen has hers. And these are different (happily, I think.) Nonetheless, her tea, or at least that bit of her selection I have tasted, is very good quality. She and Noah do a very good job in selecting high quality teas (yes, there always are some duds - I've recently had that embarrassment with a "top level" tea I had selected, and I suffered the consequences) and they are honest merchants who contribute to our tea culture. I believe they deserve the acclaim they receive.

@Rickpatbrown Top quality Taiwanese gaoshan is expensive; no two ways about that. My gaoshan teas all sell within the price rage you mention and then some. Yet I work on a 55% (or less) margin on everything I sell and I offer free shipping on all North American orders. I do this because I love to make fine tea available and because I am in a position to be able to (I'm old.) And I challenge anyone (except @Bok and some other vendors) to buy directly from a farm or merchant in Taiwan and obtain as high quality for a lower price. I have, in the past, railed against high middleman margins in the tea business (https://tillermantea.net/2018/01/) but the truth is, many small vendors barely get by.
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