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Natural Beauty Rhyming in the Mountain
A discussion of Taiwanese High Mountain Tea

Historically, high mountain tea growing districts have produced Oolong teas. In recent years, small amounts of black and green teas have come onto the high mountain market, but Oolong remains the principal tea, and the variety most customers chink of when they hear the words "Taiwanese high mountain tea."

High mountain Oolong teas are grown in tea gardens at elevations above 1000 meters. Key-growing areas are situated in the central southern part of the island in Jiayi county, Nantou county and areas around Taizhong. These tea gardens are spread throughout altitudes between 1000 and 2000 meters.

The main variety of tea plant grown to produce high mountain tea is Qingxin Oolong, followed by Jinxuan (Tai Tea no. 12) and Cuiyu (Tai Tea no. 13). Spring teas are picked from the end of April through early May, handpicked teas are preferred to those mechanically harvested. Annually, there may be three to five pickings, of which spring and winter pickings are regarded as the best. High mountain districts are enveloped in fog morning and evening, and receive short days of sunlight, resulting in reduced levels of catechins and bitter compounds in the tea leaves, allowing increased concentrations of theanine and soluble nitrogen which contribute to sweet flavours in the tea. The tea buds are soft, with thick leaves containing high amounts of sap, causing high mountain teas to be fresh and green in colour, sweet in taste, smooth on the throat, thick in consistency, with elegant aroma, brewing to a honey green infusion and able to withstand multiple infusions.

The most famous Taiwanese high mountain teas are Meishan Oolong tea, Zhuqi high mountain tea, Alishan Zhulu tea, Alishan high mountain tea, all from Jiayi county. Nantou county produces Shanlin Xi high mountain tea, Wushe shan high mountain tea, Yushan Oolong tea; and from Taizhong: Lishan high mountain tea, Wuling high mountain tea and Dayu Ling High mountain tea.

The main production areas of Taiwanese high mountain tea
Alishan Oolong tea

If we talk of high mountain tea, the first teas we may think of are the Alishan Oolong teas produced in the regions of Meishan, Zhuqi, Fanlu and Alishan.

Jiayi county is located in the south west of Taiwan. The Tropic of Cancer runs through the county and the Yushan (Jade Mountain) range and the Central Mountain range both run through the county. There are great temperature fluctuations between day and night; at dusk and dawn, clouds obscure the view, rainfall is even, the soils are deep and fertile, allowing the tea bushes to grow vigorously, producing thick healthy buds and leaves that make mellow tasting teas with fragrant aromas, possessing a unique "Mountain Rhyme," Teas from this area have many fans.

Driving along the roads in Alishan, all around, one can see orderly tea gardens, neatly planted with emerald green tea plants. The first village upon entering the mountain area is Shanmci tea district, followed by Fanlu county's Xiding Oolong district and Longtou high mountain Oolong district; if we continue on, we will come to Alishan county's Dabang, Lijia and Fengshan tea districts. The famous Shizhao tea district produces Alishan's Zhulu (pearl dew) tea, and from here, a road leads to the world famous Alishan railway's final stop, Fenqi Hu. Along the way, one can reach Zhangshu Hu (Camphor Lake) in Meishan county, all of the tea produced in this district is called "Fairy Leaf Tea." Furthermore, one can reach Ruili, Ruifeng, Bihu, Longyan Forest. The teas produced in these areas are called "Ruili Dragon Peurl teas" and are renowned. Finally, one can reach the Taiping tea district in the Taiping scenic area. In the early days, all of the tea produced in the Meishan district was called "Meishan Oolong tea", with tea growing areas including Taiping, Longyan Forest, Bihu, Taixing, Ruili, Ruifeng and Taihe villages. These places were first planted with tea after the deforestation of the area, mostly growing Qingxin Oolong. Considered part of the Alishan mountain range, all of the aforementioned places produce teas that arc collectively referred to as Alishan Oolong tea.

Shanlin Xi Oolong tea
Shanlin Xi is located in Daan area of Nantou county's Zhushan town, at the meeting point of Nantou, Yunlin and Jiayi counties and at altitudes between 1200 to 1600 meters. In the past, this area was famous for being forested with all kinds of ancient, large trees, now surrounded by endless bamboo forests. Tea gardens in this area are spread throughout the bamboo forest, and are very picturesque indeed. Enveloped year round in thick fogs, the weather is pleasantly cool, with copious rainfall, rich soils, and natural conditions perfectly suited to the cultivation of tea, Shanlin Xi is the rising star of the high altitude Nantou tea districts.

Within Zhushan town, the areas Daan, Runan, Longfeng Xia, Fanzai Tian, Shitou Hu, Sanceng Ping, Yangzai Wan and Shanlin Xi ail produce teas that arc collectively referred to as Shanlin Xi Oolong tea. Due to the altitude, there arc large differences between day and night temperatures and tea leaves require at least 55 days of growth between pickings. The buds arc thick and soft, rich in minerals and the finished tea produce is lustrous and shiny, brewing to a golden yellow infusion that is limpid and bright with an elegant, lingering aroma. The flavour is sweet, lively and easy on the mouth, leaving a delightful flavour after swallowing that moistens the mouth. Shanlin Xi teas possess a true high mountain flavour. The Zhushan Farmer's association categorise teas according to spring and winter pickings, and further divide these teas into different grades, and distinct classes of "Oolong" and "New Variety." These teas are judged, and customers rush to snap them up.

Yushan Oolong tea
Areas producing Yushan Oolong tea include Luonuo in Nantou county's Xinyi district, Tongfu (Caoping Tou), Shenmu, Shali Xian, Tara Jia and Shuili county's Yongxing village, Xinshan and the newly thriving Shangan village (Junkeng) tea gardens. The mercury falls pretty low in these areas, and there are only four annual pickings; again, hand-picking is the preferred method. The finished tea is spherical,heavy and tightly roiled. The infusion is honey green and clear, and has a subtle flavour.

Nantou county's Shuili is the starting point of the cross-island highway, and is located close to the neighbouring mountains where teas are grown. Its prominent location has seen Shuili develop into a tea distribution center, and also a town that must be passed through in order to get to Dongpu and Yushan. The beautiful scenery here attracts an endless stream of tourists. Residents of Shangan village in Shuili have formed the Shangan Tea Production and Marketing Group, and they have created the well known "Shengfeng Tea" brand.

Wushan, Lushan high mountain tea
Nancou county's Renai township is a vast swathe of land hidden away in the lofty heights of the central mountain range. The rough terrain has resulted in scattered tea growing areas with individual characteristics springing up in the following places: Liangjiu, Wujie, Datong Shan, Dongyan Shan, Aowan Da, Hongxiang, Pingjing, Wushe, Chunyang, Lushan, Cuifeng and Ciuluan. These arc all located in Aboriginal conservation areas and forest zones between 800 and 2000 meters in altitude. Hongxiang and Aowan Da tea gardens are less chan 1000 meters in altitude, Liangjiu tea gardens are spread between 1200 and 1600 meters, Wush, Lushan and Qingjing farms are between the 1600-1700 meter range, while Cuifeng, and Cuiluan tea gardens are located between 1800-2000 meters above sea level.

The main varieties cultivated are Qingxin Oolong and Jinxuan, with four annual pickings caking place from the end of April to the end of October or early November. The tea districts are also home to the Lushan hot springs, Qingjing farm, and the famed Maple Landscapes, all of which have become tourist hot spots, in turn helping to spur on the demand for high mountain tea.

The famed Tianwu and Tianlu teas from this area were first cultivated in the 1980s by Tienren Tea. It can be said that these were the avant garde of high mountain Oolongs in Renai township, and even in the whole of Taiwan.

Lishan high mountain tea
Lishan tea is produced in the Heping district of greater Taizhong city on Fushou Shan Farm. Its production is managed by the Veterans Affairs Committee. A natural pond called "Tianchi" is located in the upper reaches of the farm, beside which a pavilion has been constructed and aptly named "Philosopher's Pavilion", The pond lies at an elevation of 2600 meters, and the nearby tea gardens are Taiwan's highest.

Any tea sold as a Lishan tea should have been grown at an elevation of over 2000 meters. In the mid 1970s, fruit farmer Chen Jin planted Qingxin Oolong tea plants in his apple and pear orchards and successfully made tea from his pickings. Consequently, the Veterans Affairs Committee of Fushou Shan commenced mass planting, and in cooperation with Tienren Tea, produced a tea that was marketed as "Tianli tea These teas arc grown at altitudes above 2400 meters, so year round temperatures are cool, and the tea gardens are encircled by mists. The leaves are thick and sappy, with high theaninc levels, that brew to produce a mellow, sweet flavour accompanied by subtle, lingering aromas that remain flavoursome after nine infusions. For a while, Lishan teas were the must have tea of enthusiasts, and NT$6400 (about US$220 today) was the asking price for a jin (600grams), as demand exceeded supply, making a name for teas from this area. Later on, Fushou Shan Farm set up its own tea production facilities, selling under the name of "Fushou Changchun Tea" while tea farmers on the peripheries of Lishan sold their teas as Lishan tea.

Lishan spring tea is picked from the end of May to the beginning of June, while summer tea is picked from the end of August. The warm days at the beginning of October arc when the third (Autumn) picking occurs. Because the production costs are relatively high, and the risks also high, wholesale prices are around NT$3-4000 per 600 grams, retailing for NT$6-7,000.

Journeys into high mountain tea culture
Most of the areas in Taiwan producing high mountain tea are places of natural beauty and stunning scenery such as Alishan, Shanlin Xi, Qingjing Farm, Lishan, Huadong's Jinzhen Shan, all of which attract their share of tour groups and independent travelers. Tea culture trips to Taiwan's high mountain tea districts have been widely marketed in recent years, with many a guest winding their way up the mountain roads.

Alishan high mountain tea trip
Shizhao Recreational Farm is located between the 46th and 53rd kilometre marker on the Alishan road. The mountainside here slopes from 1200 to 1600 meters in altitude, backed by the central mountain range's Yushan. Endless mountain peaks greet our eyes. To the southwest, we are met with the endless flatlands of the Jianan plain; it is as if we are in a fairyland. The tea is planted at elevations between 1200 and 1600 meters, with year-round low temperatures and foggy conditions. The soil is fertile and perfect for growing tea. The teas produced are outstanding and possess fine flavours.

The tea growers in the Shizhao tea district have teamed together to create the "Zhulu Tea Marketing Group" collectively selling Alishan Zhulu tea, garnering praise both home and abroad.

In order to develop and integrate their tea production business and recreational area, the Zhuqi county Agricultural association have turned their head offices into an agricultural educational center, and have also established a tea culture center, water and soil conservation classroom conference room, home management classroom, and a student dormitory. The tea landscape and agricultural training to manage it have been combined in the following two day itinerary:

Day One
Jiayi→Chukou→Metzia formosae Ecological Park→Tea Industry and Culture Center (Tea culture experience and tasting Alishan high mountain Oolong) → Accomodation in Shizhao B&B (rural life experience)

Day Two
Watch the sunrise and sea of clouds→Fenqi Hu Old Street (experience mountain customs) Alishan forest park (See the divine tree and take a natural forest bath) Go home or elsewhere.

With guidance from the local government and cooperation of the tea famers, the Alishan tea culture tour has developed into a flourishing prospect, in turn spreading the renown of Alishan Oolong tea. This trip has attracted guests from both sides of the strait, including many Mainland tour groups, later followed by independent travellers, who choose Alishan as their destination of choice in Taiwan.

Lishan Gaoleng Oolong tea trip
Lishan teas arc grown within the Dcji reservoir basin. The Fushou shan farm began tea production in 1970, in the area which grows Taiwan's highest high mountain teas at 2600 meters. Most teas sold as Lishan tea will be grown above 2000 meters, and nowadays Cuiluan, Cuifeng, Huagang, and an assortment of new and old tea growing districts cover hundreds of hectares of mountainside.

The Fushou Shan farm covers an area of 803 hectares at altitudes between 1800 to 2584 meters, growing close to a hundred varieties of temperate fruit, tea, vegetables, flowers and other crops. The main road leading to Fushou is lined with Cryptomeria (cypress) trees, and the hillsides arc covered with fruit trees, tea bushes and vegetable allotments. The mountain air is clean and clear, and the stunning scenery seduces visitors.

The mountain scape changes with the seasons; plum and cherry trees are the first to announce the end of winter with their blossoms, followed by peach trees, pear and apricots, azaleas, and dandelions blooming in splendid profusion. In summer and autumn, the farm is flooded with aster blossoms. This is also the time when tea is picked and fruits are harvested, both events which attract endless streams of visitors. As autumn gives way to winter, the mercury falls, and endless seas of white clouds swirl through the mountain, creating an ever changing landscape.

Lishan Gaoleng Oolong teas are grown at high altitudes where mist surrounds the mountains year round, and day and night temperature differences are great. The tea leaves are bright emerald green, brewing into a smooth tea, that can withstand multiple infusions. After drinking, the teas have a noticeable huigan; these are most esteemed teas. Owing to the quality of the teas produced in the area, Lishan has become a popular place for people to go and seek out fine tea.

Shanlin Xi tea mountain bamboo sea trip
Shanlin Xi is located in Nantou county, Zhushan town Daan village (Longfeng Xia, Shanling Xi, Daan, Sanceng Ping, Fanzai Tian), Lugu township in Xitou, Yangzai Wan and Dalun Shan districts. Shanlin Xi lies at the intersection of Nantou, Yunlin and Jiayi counties, at elevations between 1100 and 1800 meters, and 100,000 hectares of bamboo forested mountain, which are surrounded by fog twelve months of the year. The weather is pleasantly cool, with copious rain falls, the soils are fertile and suited to tea cultivation. Zhushan town Daan village (Longfeng Xia, Shanling Xi, Daan, Sanceng Ping, Fanzai Tian) have seen great development in recent years, and are the key production areas of Shanlin Xi Oolong tea.

Ruanan Bagua tea garden is at 1400 meters. The tea gardens are sculpted into the mountainside, thus follow the undulations of the mountain, and are densely planted. With this mountain ridge at the centre, the tea gardens spread out in an arc shape. The green velvety tea plants look like herds of green sheep making thir way down the moun-tain? similar in form to the baguay hence the name of the tea garden. Zhushan town public office and the community association have actively combined the bamboo forest, sweet potato cultivation, tea and other crops in Xitou, Shanlin Xi, Feilai Shi, Tianjing waterfall, as well as the Zhanbei old trail in order to provide a truly original tea culture trip.

Day lily tea trip
Huadong is the main day lily growing district in Taiwan. Every August and September, the mountains and valleys are flooded with golden yellow blooms decorating the emerald green tea gardens, a unique feature of Huadong's scenery. Notably, Taimali day lily mountain in Taidong, Hualian's Yuli Chihe mountain (Chike mountain), and Fuli's sixty stone mountains, are areas that attract streams of visitors keen to appreciate the flowers and taste the tea.

Taimali is an important agricultural town to the south of Taidong city, producing day lillies, custard apples and high mountain tea. The two districts of Taimali and Jinfeng are located on gently sloping mountain ridges, between altitudes of 800 and 1500 meters. The mountain peaks are covered in fog morning and evening, day and night temperatures contrast greatly. The areas receive moderate rainfall. Due to the day lillies (jinzhen in Chinese), the famous mountain where therese lillies grow is named "Jinzhen Shan".

The majority of the teas grown on Jinzhen mountain are Qingxin Oolong and Jinxuan variety, while smaller quantities of Cuiyu and Siji Chun are grown in the mountain tea gardens which cover an area of approximately thirty hectares. Many tea merchants from afar flock to Jinzhen mountain to buy the native tea. Following the contours of the mountain, The Jinzhen farm has constructed a system of pathways which link all of the tea growing areas, each with their own individual characteristics. The "Firefly" path before the farm continues into the valley, which, on summer nights is often aglow with the curious insects. Both sides of the path are planted with mountain cherry trees. W^hen they blossom in winter, the entire pathway is bathed in a subtle fragrance, and this two kilometer stretch of pathway is the reason most guests come to the area. The high points of this mountain are clotted with pavilions and from the highest peaks. One can see as far as Green island and Lanyu island, looking like two small ships in the Pacific ocean. With soft breezes blowing in from the sea and birds chirping in the trees this tranquil spot is a fine place to enjoy nature. In August and September when the day lilies profusely bloom all over the mountain, this is a fine time for sipping tea and admiring the flowers, trying one's hand at Aboriginal crafts, savouring some local cuisine, and having a good soak in the Zhiben hot springs. A!1 of the above make Taimali a great destination for a high mountain tea trip.

Yuli, in Hualian county is home to Chike mountain, which peaks at 1000 meters. Apart from growing day lilies, this mountain also produces a great deal of tea, and the interspersed tea and lily gardens create a stunning, otherworldly scene. Chike Mountain is best visited in the early morning, and a two to three day tour will be ample to see the sights. The journey progresses along the central Hualian-Taidong valley and takes in many of the scenic spots along the way. Once you arc in the Chike area, it is wise to stay the first night in Aboriginal B&B's or camping areas, waking early the following day to see the morning mountain scenery and experience mountain life.

The Sixty Stone Mountains in Hualian's Fuli township rise abruptly along the coastline, rising to altitudes of 800 to ll00 meters. The peaks arc wide and smooth, only a short (1km) distance away from the Central Mountain Range and the narrowest point in the Huadong valley. The higher reaches of the Sixty Stone Mountains arc planted with several hundred hectares of day lilies, and every August and September, the jade mountain sides are adorned with a sea of golden orange and yellow flowers.

In early days, lilies were the sole crop here, but since 1990, farmers have sticcessively converted to tea cultivation, and today there are over twenty hectares of tea gardens in the area, mostly growing Qingxin Oolong and smaller quantities of Jinxuan and Cuiyu. Tea growers have also opened their farms to tourists and set up B&B's.

During a two day trip to Jinzhen Mountain in the dog days of summer to experience mountain life, one might admire the flowers during the day, then relax under the light of the stars and the chirping of cicadas in the evening. A cup of the fragrant local Oolong tea truly gives an impression of the delight of the mountains. A visit during the tea picking season not only gives one the opportunity to experience the entire tea production process, but also to take home the tea made, and leave as a member of the local tea organisation.

The current situation in Taiwanese high mountain tea production
Taiwanese high mountain tea gardens arc predominantly located in mountain conservation areas, including Aboriginal lands which may be farmed, national forest areas that may be used to grow trees, as well as some small tracts of privately owned land. People involved in growing high mountain tea mostly cooperate with Aboriginal land owners, or engage in farming as well as tea production to grow their teas without breaking any laws. Because the land is not privately owned, water and soil conservation and damage caused by invasive construction are often a secondary concern. The health of the soil and water are a concern for the future. Landowners who have attached importance to the soil and water conservation of the high mountain tea gardens, and have re-invested money into water and soil conservation projects, resulting in healthy, sustainable tea gardens are a model for correct tea garden husbandry. As tea shrubs grow into small trees, the roots penetrate deep into the soil, resulting in years of luxuriant growth; the root systems do a fair job of preserving the quality of the soil. Nevertheless, it is important to maintain the soils of these rcclaimcd mountain lands, not taking too much from the land, conserving its original condition, in harmony with the original ecosystem.

Models of Taiwanese high mountain tea production: 1. Cultivation of tea, the grower sells the picked raw leaves. 2. Producer owns tea garden and tea processing centre, employs tea masters to make and sell the product. 3. Tea collectives come to the tea growing area during tea picking season, purchase fresh picked tea leaves and rent tea processing cquipment/space. They make the tea themselves and sell it too, profiting in relation to the quality of the finished product. There arc also collectives who divide the production process, paying wages in relation to the original weight of fresh leaves.

Areas producing high mountain tea arc affected by constrains of terrain, weather and manpower, tea makers arc often faced with the problems listed below.

The high mountain areas in central Taiwan arc not well suited to the construction of tea factories, the construction of which require hundreds of millions of Taiwanese dollars, cash which will be hard to cam back from selling tea; and for the average rural household, this burden would be too much to bear. Furthermore, high mountain areas are not served with farming suppliers in the way that the lower land areas are, making it more difficult for high mountain growers to pick up equipment easily. There is a distinct limit on the area of land upon which high mountain tea is grown, and demand far exceeds supply, further affecting the quality of teas sold today.

The spring season for high mountain tea begins at the end of April and runs through May and June, by the start of the rainy season, the weather is not stable enough for tea making. The most essential part of the Oolong production process is sun withering, and ideally teas should be wilted in the sun on days when there is no rain. Often the weather in high mountain tea growing areas is changeable, and rainfall during leaf withering can negatively affect the quality of the finished tea product. Most commonly encountered shortcomings in high mountain teas are caused by insufficient withering (uneven water evaporation from raw tea leaves does not get rid of the "green" flavour in the tea) as well as insufficient oxidation. Both of the above reduce the quality of high mountain teas, causing the flavours to lean towards those associated with green teas.

It is possible to use infrared wilting machines in place of the rays of the sun in temperature controlled wilting rooms which also remove the moisture from the raw tea leaves, compensating for the unreliable nature of the weather. Hand-picking techniques are of utmost importance to the raw leaves used to make high mountain Oolong tea. Adept picking skills and standardised picking have a great effect on the quality of the raw tea leaves, obviously the key factor in the production of a quality finished product. Therefore, in the tea picking season, high mountain tea gardens are awash with bamboo hat clad (predominantly) female tea pickers, carrying baskets which they fill with tea leaves. Due to the limited amount of workers in high mountain tea growing districts, tea pickers must be hired and transported in from elsewhere, and are paid between NT$2,000 and 5,000 per day. (Tea pickers are paid between NT$50-70 per 600grams of wet picked tea.)

Because the tea pickers themselves are limited in number, tea growers organise the sequence of tea picking in advance. If they encounter rain, there are times when the tea has to be picked for fear of the unpicked tea leaves passing their best. Exposure to rain affects the final quality of the tea.

Hand-picking is a unique characteristic of high mountain tea, and also a factor limiting its development. Preserving traditional handpicking techniques mean that demand will continue to outstrip supply, ensuring high mountain tea keeps its fresh fragrance, smoothness, mellowness, lingering sweetness, thickness and ability to withstand multiple infusions. The production of high mountain teas does not solely focus on creating a pretty exterior appearance, tight rolled pellets, a green fresh flavour leaning towards green tea flavours. If tea picking skills and standard picking practices are not followed, with makers aiming for quantity over quality, high mountain tea will follow an incorrect path that other teas before have followed.

The reason for the high cost of high mountain Oolong tea stems from its extremely high production cost. According to the findings of Mr Chen Huantang of the Yi Xiangcun Tea Co., the costs of producing high mountain tea can be divided into the early stages of reclaiming and planting the land, and the second stage of production for easier analysis.

The first stage of making the land suitable for growing tea and planting can be roughly calculated, per hectare as follows: The whole process including reclaiming the land and planting tea bushes: NT$600-700,000, water storage and irrigation systems: NT$500,000. Using the standard of no picking in the first three years of growth, the annual management costs (weeding, fertiliser, pesticides) amount to around NT$1 million. As we can see, before the first harvest, an investment of around NT$4 million is required.

The secondary production period differs from area to area due to different picking and production costs: picking costs are between NTS50-70 for 600grams (Taiwanese jin). Five to six jin of wet picked tea will make around a jin of maocha, unprocessed dry tea which is then oxidised and rolled into the finished Oolong product. Workers food, lodgings and insurance have to be added to this cost, raising the figure to NT$250-300 per jin of maocha. The costs of processing further differ between areas, so are sometimes lower than the figure above. If the tea maker does not own his or her own tea making facility, rental fees must also be included, as well as water and gas at approximately NT$100 per jin of maocha. So, at a minimum, the picking and production of every jin of high mountain maocha requires NT$600-700, not including the cost of renting and running the tea garden.

Acording to Chen Huantang's investigation into these tea producing areas per 600gram: Meishan and Alishan high mountain maocha teas (unfinished products) cost NT$850 to produce, as does tea from Shaniin Xi, while Lishan tea costs NT$1200. Roughly calculated using these preliminary production costs, processing Alishan and Shaniin Xi teas from their unprocessed state into refined tea products results in a wholesale price of NT$ 1200-3000 per 600 grams, while the wholesale price of Lishan tea is between NT$3000-4000 per 600grams. Clearly, makers of these teas are only in a position to profit if the produce high-quality high mountain Oolong teas.

Survey on Taiwanese tea growing districts: the production and processing costs of 600 grams of finished tea. Taiwanese high mountain teas come from areas of fine mountains and clean water, these stunning scenic places represent the elemental nature of the teas, so humans who decide to work the mountain land to grow tea must engage nature in a respectful manner, by planting tea and constructing buildings in sync with the mountains. High mountain tea growers must work with the natural ecology as they develop high mountain tea gardens, assimilating tea culture into their tourist farms, in turn attracting visitors and further developing their business. The unique flavours of Taiwanese high mountain tea arc known the world over. Although its price is high, it has its market share; high level goods arc able to enter the luxury market (with emphasis on brand and quality, not cost). This should be controlled by a terroir system of certification, so that buyers are able to trust the products more. Sale and purchase of certified pure, high quality Taiwanese high mountain Oolong tea will require effort from both the Taiwanese government and those involved in the tea industry, and will further guarantee the future production of the tea.

The main high mountain Oolong tea producing areas of Taiwan are spread among the mountain areas of Nantou and Jiayi counties, with Qingxin Oolong being the preferred variety cultivated, and Jinxuan, a newer variety gaining popularity. The tea leaves are rolled into the semispherical form popular of late, and although there are examples of unique local flavours and fragrances, many high mountain teas share common characteristics. High mountain teas rely on local geographical features and cultural connotations fused with creativity to create individual brands which express their local soil and water. In this respect, high mountain teas are similar to European wines, in that there are countless vineyards, each with its own characteristics and markets.

I believe that if producers of Taiwanese high mountain tea work in tune with the natural environment, employing correct water and soil conservation, while focussing upon the fine flavour, fragrance and mellow characteristics of the tea, combined with tea culture and recreational farms, as well as the introduction of a certification system guaranteeing the purity and origin of the teas with an eye to the safety and hygiene of said teas, Taiwanese high mountain Oolong tea will be able to develop in a healthy, sustainable manner.