Friday, September 7, 2018

Fushou shan and Tian Chi Oolong gardens

This spring, my best (and most expensive) high mountain Oolong comes from Tian Chi. It's even more expensive than Fushou Shan and DaYuLing, even though it's a very unfamiliar name in the tea world. But not for long! In this article, I'm going to show you the pictures of the Tian Chi Oolong plantation and give you more background information about this fantastic tea.
 The Tian Chi actually designates this little pond at the top of Fushou shan. It's a scenic area for tourists, but there's no tea plantation at this location. However, a couple of steps next to the pond, you have this nice view on the nearby mountains.
 And this is what you see if you zoom on the spot in front of you: tea plantations! However, this is not the Tian Chi Oolong plantation.
Let's look at this map. Maybe we will find the Tian Chi plantation... Here we can see that Fushou shan is located just next to Lishan. The map mentions a Tea Manufactury and Tea Gardens on both sides of the road. These plantations belong to the Fushou Shan farm. However, the Tian Chi plantation is not shown on the map.
 Before reaching Tian Chi, we can see the mentioned plantations on Fushou shan. This one is on the west side of the road. It features the famous fans on poles that I have only seen here in Taiwan.
 This long garden on the east side is surrounded by pine trees on all sides also has fans (to disperse frosty air).
This plantation below is also on the east side of the road and has the biggest surface. All these plantations belong to the Fushou shan farm, which was created during the Chiang Kai Shek era for and by retired soldiers of the nationalist army. They got to choose the best location, because it's these soldiers who helped build the road across these mountains!
Fushou shan plantation
That's why the Fushou farm also owns this Oolong garden. It's located just half a mile after the Tian Chi scenic spot:
Tian Chi plantation
In the past, the Oolongs of these different plantations used to be sold as Oolong from Fushou Shan. It was difficult and expensive to purchase. Since this farm had political connections from the start, it used to supply the highest offices of the government here. Fushou shan Oolong became known as the president's tea because of that.
Tian Chi plantation
But actually, it makes sense to treat this Tian Chi garden separately from the Fushou mountain gardens. It's on the other side of the mountain, facing a different direction and therefore it will develop a distinctive flavor.
Tian Chi plantation
This garden isn't just surrounded by pine trees, but they also grow among the rows of tea bushes. It's also clear that the farmers don't use any products against weed (see above).
Tian Chi plantation
White morning clouds bring natural moisture to the leaves, but the plantation also has its own irrigation system if there's not sufficient water.
Tian Chi plantation
The leaves grow healthily in the clear mountain sunshine. Some tea leaves stay longer in the shadows of their neighboring trees. This creates variations in the growth of the leaves, which leads to more depth and complexity in the taste.
Tian Chi plantation
Most farms maximize the space that can be used to plant tea trees. This one is a beautiful exception to the extensive farming that is often witnessed. It's so wonderful to see Oolong grow among these tall trees.
Tian Chi plantation
Tian Chi is the most beautiful tea plantation I have seen so far in Taiwan. I was moved to (Oolong) tears when taking these pictures! No wonder this Oolong tastes so good! 
Tian Chi plantation: Beauty you can also taste!