Evaporation is one of the most important processes in the soil-plant-atmosphere-continuum water cycle. The objectives of the present study were to (1) test the feasibility of different methods for quantifying evapotranspiration (ET) and its components and (2) investigate and quantify ET and its components in a subalpine watershed from April to October, 2009. Our research site was in the Gongga Mountains, located on the southeastern fringe of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The components of ET could be observed using the interception, sap-flow and stable isotope techniques. The summation of these components, referred to as the summed components method, was thought to be the ET. Similar estimates of ET from April to October were obtained using the summed components (736 mm) and Eddy covariance (598 mm) methods. The mean of two ET estimates (667 mm) accounted for 50% of the total water input. ET was composed of 6% soil evaporation, 19% vegetation transpiration and 75% interception evaporation. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.