This year’s spring tea adventure began with a Saturday early evening ride to meet my Taiwanese elder brother in Deer Valley to discuss the World Tea Expo that he is producing for Nantou County in June. After a good talk over a bit of scotch, I continued on to higher elevations and into the Shanlinxi region to seek out a tea factory where the first day of spring harvest was being cured.
Shanlinxi Tea I arrived shortly before midnight, as they were just about to start the first stage of processing following a day of allowing the leaves to slowly wilt and oxidize to the point of becoming effervescent. Walking into a mountainside tea factory filled with the scent of freshly picked oolong leaves is simply inimitable. Suddenly, I was in one of my favorite circumstances.
I stayed out of the way and watched until the 11 year old grandson in the family forfeited his position and went to bed, after resisting as long as he could. Then I was the third man, which I had been before, although it had been a while. So we shuffled tea leaves about from the bamboo trays into the high temp tumble dryers (to cease oxidation) and onto the roller and secondary dryer and back onto the bamboo trays- right on through the dawn.

I rolled out of my hammock on the rooftop with the sun already high in the sky, and after a late breakfast, rode to the nearby tea garden where the second day of spring tea leaves were being picked (see photos). This is the source of our Shanlinxi selection. And this award – winning farmer is also the producer of our Phoenix Mountain Dong Ding Oolong – where their tea industry began - which is my closest experience of a traditional Oolong at its best.
The next free day meant a ride up to the last house on the hill behind Stone Table Mountain to pick up this season’s Alishan tea. My supplier for over a decade was noticeably happy to promptly to brew a pot. It’s good tea, and he knew it. I snatched up the last of the batch that he had saved for me, leaving him with one jing(600g).
High Mountain Oolong Tea
The same weekend, I went back to Lugu to see what my above mentioned tea mentor’s wife had procured of spring harvest and roasted to her refined taste. After tasting two medium-roasted teas (which she knows I like), I asked if she had a lighter-roasted tea as a spring compliment of the Phoenix Mountain Dong Ding that I already had. And this led to a nice surprise of a higher elevation tea that was normally sold as high mountain tea, but oxidized enough to be roasted. This was roasted the minimal amount – about six hours at low temp – just enough to mellow and balance the volatile oils and green-leafy flavors. The result is a subtle yet vibrant flowery essence combined with something reminiscent of fresh-baked bread. All of us at the large tree trunk of a tea table agreed that it was the most interesting tea that we had tasted – which is now our Classic Dong Ding selection.

And so spring tea shopping was complete – at least at its initial stage. There may be a couple more irresistible selections out there that we might happen upon… In the meantime, we invite you to peruse the first picks of spring tea and find what suits you the best.

View Current Tea Selections

As always – in tea,



Black Dragon Teas