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About Oolong Teas

Chinese Tea 烏龍 Oolong

In Chinese tea, Oolongs are known as “Dark Green” teas or Qing Cha 青茶, it is a traditional tea that is semi-oxidized and produced through a process that includes withering the tea leafs under the strong sun and oxidizing before curling and twisting. And the level of oxidizing could vary from 8 to 85%.

Different styles of oolong tea can vary widely in flavour. They can be sweet and fruity with honey aroma, or woody with roasted aromas, or green and fresh with complex aromas. Oolong tea are traditionally enjoyed without adding extra milk or sugar, however, in popular cultures oolong tea leaves are used in brewing Boba tea, or Bubble teas.

Some variety of Oolong from China may include the followings:

  • Tieguanyin ("Iron Goddess of Mercy") 鐵觀音: a China Famous Tea, more commonly found in Anxi.

  • Huangjin Gui ("Golden Cassia" or "Golden Osmanthus"): similar to Tieguanyin, with a very fragrant flavor.

  • Da Hong Pao ("Big Red Robe") 大紅袍: a highly prized tea and a Si Da Ming Cong tea. This tea is also one of the two oolong varieties classed as Chinese famous teas.

  • Bai Jiguan ("White Cockscomb"): a Si Da Ming Cong tea. A light tea with light, yellowish leaves.

  • Rougui ("Cassia"): a dark tea with a spicy aroma.

  • Shui Xian ("Narcissus"): a very dark tea. Much of it is grown elsewhere in Fujian.

  • Single Bush Dancong (单 枞) ("Phoenix oolong") A family of strip-style oolong teas from Guangdong Province. Dancong teas are noted for their ability to naturally imitate the flavors and fragrances of various flowers and fruits, such as orange blossom, orchid, grapefruit, almond, ginger flower, etc.

Tea cultivation in Taiwan began in about 18th century. Since then, many of the teas which are grown in Fujian province have also been grown in Taiwan. Since the 1970s, the tea industry in Taiwan has expanded at a rapid rate, in line with the rest of the economy. Due to high domestic demand and a strong tea culture, most Taiwanese tea is bought and consumed in Taiwan.

As the weather in Taiwan is highly variable, tea quality may differ from season to season. Although the island is not particularly large, it is geographically varied, with high, steep mountains rising abruptly from low-lying coastal plains. The different weather patterns, temperatures, altitudes, and soil ultimately result in differences in appearance, aroma, and flavour of the tea grown in Taiwan. In some mountainous areas, teas have been cultivated at ever higher elevations to produce a unique sweet taste that fetches a premium price.

Here are some variety of Taiwanese Tea:

  • Dongding ("Frozen Summit" or "Ice Peak"): Named after the mountain in Nantou County, Central Taiwan, where it is grown. This is a tightly rolled tea with a light, distinctive fragrance.

  • Dongfang Meiren ("Oriental Beauty"): This tea is tippy (the leaves frequently have white or golden tips), with natural fruity aromas, a bright red appearance, and a sweet taste.

  • Alishan oolong: Grown in the Alishan area of Chiayi County, this tea has large rolled leaves that have a purple-green appearance when dry. It is grown at an elevation of 1,000 to 1,400 metres. There is only a short period during the growing season when the sun is strong, which results in a sweeter and less astringent brew. It produces golden yellow tea with a unique fruity aroma.[9]

  • Lishan (梨山) oolong: Grown near Lishan mountain in the north-central region of Taiwan, this tea is very similar in appearance to Alishan teas. It is grown at an elevation above 1,600 metres, with Dayuling, and Fushou being the well known regions and teas along Lishan. [10]

  • Pouchong: the lightest and most floral oolong,[citation needed] with unrolled leaves of a light green to brown color. Originally grown in Fujian, it is now also widely cultivated and produced in Pinglin Township near Taipei.

  • Ruan Zhi: a light variety of oolong tea. The tea is also known as Qingxin and as # 17. It originates from Anxi in Fujian province.

  • Jin Xuan 甘宣: a variety of oolong tea developed in 1980. The tea is also known as "Milk Oolong" (Nai Xiang) because of its creamy, smooth, and easy taste. Traditional milk oolong tea does not contain milk. It originates from Taiwan.

  • Black Oolong: may refer to a dark roasted oolong. This will have a roasted flavor similar to dark roast coffee.

  • High-mountain or gaoshan 高山: refers to several varieties of oolong tea grown in the mountains of central Taiwan. Includes varieties such as Alishan, Wu She, Li Shan and Yu Shan.[11]

  • Tieguanyin: Muzha Tea Co. brought the tea from Anxi County and developed Taiwan's own variation of the popular tea on the hills of Muzha area near Taipei. While the techniques they used were similar to Anxi tieguanyin, the tastes have evolved during over a century of development.

Brewing method:

Techniques for oolong tea vary widely. One common method is to use a small steeping vessel, such as a gaiwan or Yixing clay teapot, with a higher than usual leaf to water ratio. Such vessels are used in the gongfu method of tea preparation, which involves multiple short steepings.

For a single infusion, 1 to 5-minute steepings are recommended, depending on personal preference. Recommended water temperature ranges from 82°C to 96°C (180 to 205°F.)

I will be writing a little more about tasting oolong teas, so stay tuned!

With love, V

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