Search This Blog

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A brief introduction to Oolong tea

One day, when I put my oolong clay teapot back on the shelf, my hand and a part of me felt empty. The cozy feeling of touching and belonging coming from the silent teapot beckoned me to hold my teapot again until my heart calmed down. This feeling of connectedness has been becoming stronger and stronger and this is because of the magic of the tea. The beauty of the tea art brings more meaning and color into my life and the taste of nature satisfies my desire.

Oolong is one of the teas that I most appreciate. I would like to say that she is like a young, attractive, elegant lady. She graduated from university and has some life experience and charming maturity. The character of oolong tea is between green tea and black tea: it not only contains the fresh, brisk and sweet aftertaste of green tea, but also has the dense, thick and mellow taste of black tea, and additionally the delicate floral fragrance of flower tea.

Oolong tea was created at the end of the Ming Dynasty about 400 years ago and is produced mainly in Fujian, Guangdong and Taiwan. Oolong tea leaves typically are processed in two different forms. Oolong tea from southern Fujian is rolled into a shape like a ball or dragonfly head; in northern Fujian and Guangdong oolong teas are long and twisted. Taiwan produces both forms of tea. In recent years, Sichuan, Hunan and a few other provinces have also begun a small amount of production.

Oolong consists of several dozens of kinds of leaves that have different flavors and aromas due to differences in the leaves, location, and harvest time. The process of oolong tea is a combination of green tea (non-fermentation) and black tea (full fermentation). which means it is a semi-fermented tea. It ranges from 10% to 70% oxidation. The favor of a lightly oxidized oolong (e.g. Tie Guanyin) is closer to green tea, whereas a heavy oxidized oolong (e.g. the Wuyi Cliff Tea Dahongpao) is closer to black tea.

Famous oolong teas are Fujian's Tie Guanyin, Taiwanese teas (Dongding, Alishan, Li Shan, Dayuling, Wenshan Baozhong, Oriental (Eastern) Beauty, etc.), Fujian's Wuyi Cliff teas (Dahongpao, Tieluohan, Baijiguan, Rougui, etc.) and Guangdong's Phoenix Dancong.

Yes, I've tried all these teas, and each has its own beauty. There's a lot that can be said about oolong teas, about their production, preparation, history, etc. but I can't write everything in one post. I'm too busy drinking tea :P

About Me

My photo
Seattle, WA, United States
I grew up with tea, and it continues to fill my life with so much beauty and discovery, pleasure, peace and friends. It is always leading me toward a greater understanding of culture, nature, myself and others. It is my hope to use this space to share the joy of tea and tea culture with you.