What is Oolong tea?
The key difference between oolong tea and other types of tea is the “Fermentation Level”. Oolong tea is the “semi-fermented tea” while black tea is full-fermented and green tea is unfermented. The degree of fermentation indirectly affects the caffeine level but has the direct role of changing the taste of tea.
What is tea in general?
Black tea, green tea, oolong tea, white tea, and Pu-erh tea, these are the main types of tea. But do you know they all come from the same tea plant – Camellia sinensis. It’s an evergreen bush or small tree (not for Pu-erh tea) that are mainly grown between the latitude from about 42° North to 33° South. It can be roughly classified by its size of the leaf and the height of the tea plant.
Most of the tea plants are grown in China, India, and Japan. Just to mention, Taiwan is the mecca for oolong tea lovers around the world. I’ve met a few westerners traveling to Taiwan just for tea.
Oolong Tea Flavor and Cultivar
But why the flavor is different in oolong? First is the processing method. The second is the cultivar. Here we only focus on cultivar. There are hundreds, even thousands, of tea cultivars in the world. Like the well-known green tea “Matcha”, it could mean the blends of different types of Japanese tea cultivar. So for some tea nerds, they would go for the cultivar they like, but the type of tea.
Another example, “oolong tea”. It could mean any type of tea cultivars, single or blended. Here we are introducing the main tea cultivars in Taiwan that we call the aroma of the cultivars.
#1 Jin-Xuan (a.k.a. milky oolong)
As a Taiwanese, I would say Jin-Xuan represents the spirit of Taiwan, where it originates from. You can see this popular tea cultivar in every tea garden from low altitude to high mountains. The characteristic of this tea is clear- milk and clear floral note with the creamy mouthfeel*. It is “the aroma of the cultivar”. For experienced tea drinkers, they can tell this special note by smelling it. This tea is very popular among female tea drinkers.
*Note: This is a comparative description which doesn’t mean you can smell or taste the scent of “milk”. (Even though you can find many fake milk oolong with overpowered scent in the market)
#2 Qingxin Oolong
This is another popular cultivar that you can find in high mountain tea regions. The robust foundation of this tea makes it easier to grow and process. It is also the common tea cultivar for making high-value oolong. For example, DaYuLing oolong, FuShoShan oolong and Oriental beauty.
#3 Ruby 18 (Tai-Cha 18)
This tea was one of the most successful experiments after in Taiwanese tea history which took 50 years for its debut. It is the hybrid between a wild-grown indigenous cultivar and a Burmese Assamica (a.k.a. Myanmar bigleaf Assam). You can find this cultivar in Nantou, especially in the area of Sun Moon Lake (the most expensive and highest quality). The taste of ruby 18 is very clear- the basic tone of mint and cinnamon which makes it the best tea to enjoy in the summertime.
We only introduce some of our favorites for now. See you soon.
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