Oolong Tea Fields, Mae Salong

This beautiful tea with long, twisted and fleshy leaves, which is brown-green in colour and reminiscent of an oolong, is called Green Tea-oolong... from Thailand. Tea in Thailand, you might say? Yes, it is little known but is developing more and more. Historically, Thailand is not really a tea country or rather tea production was not organized as it is now, it was mainly intended for the local market. But, as in South Vietnam, Thailand is witnessing the development of plantations promoted by Chinese or Taiwanese companies, which, for various reasons, including, sometimes, the lack of space, tried the experiment and began about 30 years ago to plant tea and organize its market with export as a commercial objective. This green-oolong tea was born about 30 years ago from the dream of a Chinese farmer in Yunnan province. Patience, consistency and optimism have been his golden rule for many years. Because it was necessary to tame and organize these hills in northern Thailand, which were not, strictly speaking, tea fields. Pretty tea-planted hills now belong to the landscape of northern Thailand and, more precisely, Chiang Rai province, near the Burmese border. Plantations are small in size between 200 and 500 acres, so production is proportional. In addition to the ideal climatic and soil conditions, the gardens are located at altitudes of about 1000-1200 m.

The plant of this green-oolong tea comes from Taiwan and, more precisely, from the Alsihan mountain, very famous for the quality of its oolongs. The plant has acclimatised well but constant care and attention was required to first grow the tea plant and then invent, adapt and tame the production in a particular process to obtain the desired taste qualities. And it is a specific know-how combining Chinese, Taiwanese and even Japanese techniques that gives this tea its distinctive taste and visual appeal. From the Japanese technique, we retain the fact of resting the leaves about 1 hour in a shaded place (such as gyokuro) after picking A Taiwanese method is borrowed the minimum fermentation As for teas from China, the rolling is done in a cauldron or in a roller.

Before starting the tasting: observe the different colours that mix the dry aspect, look how the leaves are twisted in the shape of an eyebrow, locate the leaves a little greener and then smell the dry leaves, you will see that with the second inhalation, once the leaves a little warmed by your exhalation, a hazelnut smell bursts and persists.
In a spirit of consistency with all the teas I test, the tasting is done with 2 g of tea and 3 minutes of infusion. Water temperature: 80°-85°c.
The liqueur expresses a present body, a good length of mouth and a pleasant freshness. The aromatic notes evolve between hazelnut and a hint of herbaceous notes, and the sweetness blends with a slight final toasted note. Everything expresses itself harmoniously, with very little bitterness.

If you wish to drink it "Japanese" style, with an infusion time of 1 minute, you will see that the liqueur is pleasant, absolutely without any bitterness or astringency, but that it is a little light and lacks body, the aromatic notes are not expressed "fully" and you can smell it. This tea is easy to drink at any time of the day. The sweetness of its liqueur makes it possible to taste it without sugar. Of course, do not put milk in. Its ideal storage will be to keep it in the fridge at about 5° C

We arrive in the Mae Salong area by a small, winding mountain road.
I can't help but stop several times at the side of the road to photograph these landscapes that are so beautiful...
Ah... if it weren't for these fumes... but well, in Mae Salong, given the altitude, we escape somewhat from this very unpleasant phenomenon....

The really pleasant temperature due to the altitude, the sunshine, the calm and the tranquility...
an ideal place to enjoy these fantastic panoramas

Just before reaching Mae Salong, a glance at a village well lost in the middle of the mountains a panorama that I really appreciate

«Mae Salong» looks like a typical village in southern China.
His Chinese houses surround his mosque, as in many cities in Yunnan.
In the street, the signs are in Chinese.
The older inhabitants do not speak any other language.
Yet we are not in China or Taiwan: we are in Thailand, a few kilometers from Chiang Rai and in the heart of the Golden Triangle

Perched at an altitude of about 1,350 m, Mae Salong is one of Thailand's highest villages.
The village, rather developed compared to its neighbours, is not very beautiful, but it is surrounded by a superb setting.

An old Akha woman approaches us,
we are in Mae Salong itself....

J'aime bien la vue de cette petite cabane comparée à l'immensité de la montagne environnante