Beautiful Taiwan Tea - 2014 LiShan Special Reserve vs LiShan Premium High Mountain Oolong

So I’ve been sitting on a lot of samples from Beautiful Taiwan Tea (okay not sitting so much, but drinking them faster than I can write about them) so I decided to do a comparison between two LiShan Teas from different harvests, unfortunately the first is no longer available. I had about 25g of Beautiful Taiwan Tea’s Lishan Special Reserve 2014 that I’ve been saving and roughly the same of their Lishan Winter Premium High Mountain Oolong 2014 and thought it would be interesting comparing to similar teas from different harvests to each other.

LiShan Special Reserve 2014

Origin: LiShan, Central Taiwan
Harvest: Spring
Elevation: 2000-2400m

Dry Leaves: The leaves are absolutely beautiful, while mostly green, there is tons of blues in there, as well as stems. I could tell instantly this was going to be a beautiful Taiwanese tea. There was a slight scent, but I had trouble describing it, my best description was oolong-y

Temperature: Boiling (then 190oF)
Brewing Time: One Minute
Aroma: Floral
Flavor: Lilac, Mineral and Cherry
Tasting Notes: This was surprisingly thin, not that I am disappointed, but I was expecting a thicker mouthfeel for a tea grown at such a high elevation. Regardless this was quite nice, it was pleasantly floral and it had some nice cherry notes that I don’t often see in oolongs, especially Taiwanese oolongs. The liquor was rather attractive, I used my favorite chawan and it almost looked like it had specs of gold in it, which I found was a nice contrast to the brown and white of the chawan, although I have made this tea in other cups and it doesn’t have that same effect.

If BTT still had any stock of this I could easily see myself buying again, I don’t remember it being that expensive, I think it was a little less than $10 an ounce. This used to be my favorite High Mountain Oolong from Beautiful Taiwan Tea, but then I tried the Misty Mountain and some of their newer teas causing me to rethink this, although I suppose the question is do I prefer this LiShan over the Winter LiShan. Unlike the Misty Mountain, this is hardly a daily drinker and compared to the Winter LiShan its leaves took much longer to unfurl. I got twelve infusions out of this tea.

LiShan Winter Premium High Mountain Oolong 2014
Origin: LiShan, Central Taiwan
Harvest: Winter
Elevation: 2200M
Varietal: Quingxin

Dry Leaves: The leaves are less uniform then the Special Reserve’s, but they have a much nicer blue and green color. They had a light minerally scent, compared to the Special Reserves I think this was a much prettier tea.

Temperature: Boiling (then 190oF)
Brewing Time: One Minute
Aroma: Floral and Citrus  
Flavor: Citrus, Floral, Cinnamon, Fruity and Vegetal
Tasting Notes: I used about 5g of tea in my 100ml JianShui whereas I used about 7g for the Special Reserve because I tend to find Winter Oolongs tend to have much more flavor. This was a much more subtle oolong then though Special Reserve, although I am not that surprised. A lot of winter oolongs I’ve tried have been blunter then their spring counterparts, whereas the teas BTT sources tend to be more nuanced and complex than the earlier harvests. This had a nice buttery mouthfeel, much nicer than the Special Reserve on par with similar winter oolongs grown at this elevation. I liked the cinnamon and vegetal notes in this tea, it was a nice contrast to the citrus and floral ones. In later infusions it became more vegetal than anything else.

The winter leaves are a little smaller, but considerably thicker. I almost want to say they are in not as good shape as the Special Reserve; they look like they have been rolled tighter and you can certainly see even after ten infusions the leaves are still somewhat furled although I did notice that this tea had a lot more leaves per stem, whereas the Special Reserve had two to three leaves per stem on average. This time I got seventeen infusions. I definitely am going to buy some more before it sells out, $19.99 for 2oz is an amazing deal for this.

Now for the difficult question, which do I like better? On one hand the Special Reserve is an easier tea to serve to guests since it doesn’t have any vegetal notes, which all the tea peons seem to complain about, but the LiShan Winter is much more refined. On the other hand I hate sharing my teas, especially with people who don’t appreciate them. The Winter LiShan comes out as the clear winner and it is more of a daily drinker then some of BTT’s other teas in this price range (DaYuLing). I don’t know if BTT is going to have any new teas before the spring harvest, but I am planning on doing more comparisons if BTT decides to source the same teas from the same farms. I still have a little 2014 Four Seasons and the 2013 that I’d like to compare to the 2015 harvest. 


Just a guy who likes tea.