Da yu lin tea, also written as da yu ling or dayuling, is one of the rarest teas in the world. So rare, that even the most seasoned tea connoisseurs have either never heard of it or never had the chance to try it. But what is it that makes it so rare?
When it comes to tea, especially oolong tea, the quality is dependent on the altitude at which the tea leaves are grown and harvested. As the altitude increases, so does the tea’s value. Da yu lin tea just so happens to be grown at the highest altitude of them all, making it the most widely revered and one of the hardest to find.
Where is da yu lin tea grown?
Da yu lin tea is grown at an extremely high elevation in the mountains of Taiwan. There isn’t much room at approximately 1 ½ miles (2500 meters) above sea level, which is part of what makes this tea so valuable. Without vast fields to grow, the tea has low supply, but high demand, as it is only harvested twice a year–in May and October.
But it’s the growing conditions that really make da yu lin tea what it is. At such a high elevation, the climate is cold and snowy, which slows the tea plant’s growing process. Ultimately, this makes da yu lin tea smoother to drink than many other tea varieties. The drastic change in temperatures between day and night at these elevations also contributes to the tea’s flavor, helping to remove any bitterness and unfavorable aftertaste.
How to brew da yu lin tea
It is recommended that all oolong tea, including da yu lin, be prepared gong fu style. For a full breakdown of this brewing method, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to know. But if you’re curious, let’s explore this preparation style just a bit.
What you’ll need
- Unglazed teapot
- Ceramic tea cups
- Tea towels
- Spring water heated to 85-95 degrees Fahrenheit (185-205 Celsius)
The gong fu style preparation of tea is incredibly precise and requires a lot of patience, but there is a reason this method is so common and sacred in Taiwan. By following these steps, the tea’s flavor can reach its full potential, much to the enjoyment of those consuming it.
The process begins by heating the water. Once it reaches the proper temperature, a splash of water is used to rinse both the teapot and teacups. Next, the tea leaves are scooped into the teapot, which is then filled about halfway with water. The mixture in the teapot is swirled for about 10 seconds and then the water is poured into a pitcher.
Next, the teapot is filled once again. While it steeps, water from the pitcher is poured into the teacups to warm them. Don’t let it steep too long, though! You’ll want this steep to last about 30-50 seconds. Pour the water from the teapot through a strainer and into the pitcher, then into the teacups.
When pouring, be sure to move the teapot in a circular motion. This helps to ensure that each cup tastes the same. Use the tea towel to clean up any tea that may have spilled before serving.
If the first steep is too weak or too strong, there’s no need to worry. You can adjust the timing for the next steep to your liking. You should be able to get up to 8 steeps out of the leaves before the flavor begins to wane.
The other high-mountain teas
Now that you know all about da yu lin tea, there are other teas harvested in the high mountains of Taiwan that are worth exploring as well. Just because they aren’t grown at the highest altitudes doesn’t mean their quality is poor by any means. These high-altitude teas are still some of the most highly coveted in Taiwan and around the world.
Lishan tea, grown at around 1 to 1 ½ miles above sea level, and Alishan tea, grown around half a mile to 1 mile above sea level are the high-mountain counterparts of da yu lin tea. For all three high-mountain teas, being grown at such a high altitude results in a sweeter tea that is smooth to drink, with a pleasant aroma and taste.
The benefits of high mountain tea
All of Taiwan’s high mountain teas are oolong teas, a tea variety well known for its many benefits. When you learn all that drinking oolong tea has to offer, it really makes you wonder why everyone isn’t drinking it every day!
- Better memory, focus, and concentration
- An effective substitute for mouthwash
- Full of catechins and antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory properties
- Improves bone density
- Stimulates fat loss
While drinking oolong tea certainly isn’t a magic potion, it can provide the listed benefits, plus the possibility of many others. Even if all the benefits aren’t proven, it can’t hurt to give oolong tea a try!
A deeper dive into oolong tea
While the origins of oolong tea aren’t known for sure, what is agreed upon is that it falls somewhere between a green tea and a black tea. All this means is that oolong tea is partially oxidized, which affects what it tastes like.
There’s quite a range of flavors for oolong tea, as some are more oxidized than others. This means that it can be refreshing and sweet or it can taste more earthy. It all depends on the particular type of oolong tea you’ve got your hands on!
While it doesn’t have nearly the caffeine content of a cup of coffee, it falls in the mid-range of caffeine for tea. Depending on your sensitivity, you may want to stick to drinking oolong tea earlier in the day.
Da yu lin tea: buyer beware
Because of its rarity, da yu lin tea can be incredibly hard to find. As with any hard-to-find commodity, there are people out there who will try to sell a knockoff version of the tea.
Your best bet is to purchase da yu lin tea from a well-trusted specialty tea store. If purchasing online, be sure to check the reviews to make sure you aren’t being duped.
If you can get your hands on authentic da yu lin tea, consider yourself very lucky. While it is quite expensive, you won’t regret it once you’ve had a taste.