john.b wrote:You might check out Monsoon tea shop there, in Chiang Mai, and have a look around the airport tea shop, which sells teas directly from at least one local plantation, maybe from a few.
The Taiwanese oolong types, most of what Thailand is known for, are typically coming from the Chiang Rai area instead.
Didn't get a chance to visit Monsoon, but I did meet the family behind tea-side, and tried some really wonderful Thai teas with them.
I also visited the airport tea shop earlier today, and spoke with the owner. Yes, they source from one main plantation, but they also carry Thai shu pu (overpriced, big time) and some really expensive oolong in plastic caddies that are made to imitate pewter (I almost threw up in my mouth).
The owner said he grew up in Taiwan and he spoke decent Mandarin. Apparently my Mandarin is getting better too, since I understood most of what he was saying and could answer him. I really need to study Mandarin formally.
The store actually had tea labeled as FROM Taiwan, on the box, cans and bags inside--and it was Thai tea. First time I've ever seen Thai tea so blatantly sold as Taiwanese (and they were happy to tell me it was Thai)!
The dongding at the store was passable too, which was scary. Medium roast level, too, and a light date/raisin flavor under the roast dongding flavor.
The best Thai and Vietnamese oolongs are absolutely convincing as gaoshan, IMO--the standard grades, no way, but the good stuff could earn top dollar in TW when sold as gaoshan. The Chinese tea business is a dirty one...