Alishan Tea

When it comes to tea, most people usually think of black tea or green tea. They are commonly found in most grocery stores around the world, are easy to brew, and easily enjoyed across most cultures. But there is another type of tea that comes from Taiwan called oolong tea. And among oolong teas there is one that stands apart from the rest, Alishan tea.

What is Alishan Tea?

Alishan tea is an oolong tea that is grown in the mountains of Taiwan. It is so beloved it is sometimes called the champagne of tea. The Alishan mountains are a mountain range, not one individual mountain, and it is found in central Taiwan.

What Does it Taste Like?

Alishan tea is known for its complex flavor. It has a floral, somewhat sweet taste and a very strong aroma that is both floral and herbal. Depending on where in the Alishan mountains the tea is grown, some sources are known for having a fruity flavor as well.

There are several factors that contribute to Alishan tea’s flavor. A big part of it is the location that the tea is grown in. Alishan tea is grown at very high altitudes. Because of the higher altitude, between 1000m and 2300m above sea level, this tea grows in a lower oxygen environment. The low humidity levels and high amount of rain the region receives results in a foggy, low light growing environment for the tea.

Between the lower oxygen levels and the lack of sunlight, Alishan tea grows very slowly. This really allows the tea to develop its flavor as it grows.

How is Alishan Tea Brewed?

The brewing process for Alishan tea is very simple and does not require any special tools. Simply add your tea leaves to a tea pot and pour hot, not boiling, water over the leaves. Place the lid back on the pot and allow it to steep for one minute, then it is ready to be poured and enjoyed.

Because Alishan tea leaves are so hardy you are able to steep the same leaves several times and still get a strong cup of tea. It is recommended that you increase the steep time by 30 seconds after each round of steeping, but you can actually steep these leaves up to eight times!

How Much Caffeine Does it Have?

Alishan tea has about 37 mg of caffeine per cup. That is a relatively average amount of caffeine for tea. For reference, the average cup of coffee has roughly 90 mg of caffeine per cup. The benefit to this is you can drink more Alisha tea without having to worry about consuming too much caffeine!

What is Oolong Tea?

Alishan tea is a form of oolong tea. This is a special type of tea that originates in China and Taiwan, depending on who you ask. One thing that anyone from either country will tell you is that it is beloved by both. Also, while Alishan tea is specifically from the Alishan mountain range, oolong tea in general is now grown by other countries outside of Taiwan and China. Though, some tea purists may accuse oolong tea not grown in Taiwan or China of being fake.

How is it Made?

One of the things that makes Alishan tea special is the way oolong tea is prepared. It is an eight step process, and each step is crucial to preparing this tea. First, the tea is intentionally withered in the sun so that the tea leaves lose some of their moisture and become more flexible. After being left in the sun to wither, the tea leaves are allowed to cool off before the rolling process .

The tea leaves are actually rolled twice, but there are a few steps in between both cycles of rolling. During the initial rolling step the leaves are lightly rolled which further bruises them. This helps to allow the leaves to oxidize during the next step.

During the oxidation step leaves are simply left alone and exposed to oxygen. Depending on how long the tea leaves are allowed to oxidize, they will have a different color and a different flavor when brewed. After the leaves have oxidized to the desired level they are then roasted. The roasting process dries out the tea leaves and prevents further oxidation from occurring.

Finally, the tea leaves are rolled one last time then allowed to dry. After the leaves have dried they are sorted out by color to be sold together with similar colored leaves.

Oxidation and Storage

The oxidation step also affects the stability of Alishan tea when you store it. The more oxidized your tea leaves are, the more stable they are. But regardless of how oxidized they are when you buy them, you will still want to make sure you are storing your Alishan tea leaves properly. They will need to be in an airtight container and stored dry. If stored properly your tea can last up to two years.


Alishan tea is a special tea only grown in one special location, the Alishan mountain range in Taiwan. It is a very special, very traditional tea and considered to be of the highest quality. It is sometimes even known as the champagne of tea.

It is an oolong tea with a very complex flavor, though the brewing process is anything but complex. While it will be difficult to get your hands on some, finding some would be more than worth the effort.