Though this tea was acquired in 2012 and offered on old Hou De, it has always kept vacuum-packed so shows no sign of “ageing”.
While most of the world’s famous teas come from tea farms high up in the mountains – and very often the higher the elevation the better -, there is a unique tea from Taiwan whose growing area is barely above the sea level. And, in fact, next to the Pacific Ocean! From the southern tip of Taiwan, this is the GangKuo “Harbor” Tea from ManZhou Township. Click the link below to see the tea growing area.
The tea-growing history in this area can be traced far back to the Qing Dynasty, when early immigrants from mainland China established a settlement here with a Qing government office. Tea cultivars were brought here with the immigrants from Fujian, and the early immigrants tried to grow them in nearby hills. However, the harsh low-land coastal environment had selected only the toughest to survive. The survivors have to deal with scorching sun, strong ocean salty winds, sometimes typhoons, and every year “downslope” winds (in North America, it is called the “Chinook Wind“). The survived teas responded by growing thicker leaves with thicker cell membranes.
The appearance of the Harbor tea is also very unique – a pale greyish coating, like what you can see on a mature persimmon.
The tea made from them is surely full of surviving spirits – taste is strong, long-lasting, very good sweetness kickback in the aftertaste, and be prepared for a long romance with this tea – one of the most durable teas I’ve encountered. Over-steeping can produce too much bitterness and tannins – although this is how the early local people liked.
The aroma from the dry leaves – you can get seaweeds-like sell from it, no kidding! The first 1 to 3 steepings are full of uniqueness – caramel, milk, salty (seaweeds), good floralness and the remaining steepings keep bring out more traditional oolong-like mature fruitiness.
Though it is never as popular, refined, or eye-catching as Taiwan’s famous High-Mountain oolongs or Oriental Beauty, this is a tea that has been recorded in history longer than any of them and is still fighting the harsh coastal climate like nobody!