5. June 2017

Oolong Tea


Blue Tea – Qing Cha

Though the term “blue tea” 青茶 [qīng chá] may sound unfamiliar, Oolong tea is a familiar and well-known name, Oolong tea 乌龙茶 [wū lóng chá] is another name for blue tea. First discovered in the 17th century (later than other tea kinds), Oolong in Fujian Province was the tribute ball tea of the Song Dynasty. Half-fermented, processed by both green and black tea techniques, Oolong has green tea fragrance and black tea taste. Brewing in hot water, green leaf edges turn red, earning it the term “green leaf and red edge”. More than 300 years development has led to several kinds of Oolong, and the unique flavor and taste attract more and more Oolong fans.

Why does Oolong taste so good? Its charm is the unique tea-processing technique. Some knowledge about the manufacturing of this tea will help us understand and enjoy Oolong better. Oolong processes are including: withering, fine manipulation, frying, rolling and drying, fine manipulation is the most important procedure, which helps to improve oolong fragrances and tastes. There are mainly three ways of this procedure, impacting 跳动, shaking 摇动 and hand-made 做手. Through scientific analyses, oolong tea has more than 450 kinds of organic compounds, about 40 inorganic mineral elements, after fermentations, the contents of tea polyphenols, catechuic acids and multiple amino acids are much higher than other kinds of teas.

Oolong tea are mainly produced in Fujian, Guangdong and Taiwan areas, according to the orgins, oolong could be divided into four sorts: North Min (闽- short for Fujian), South Min, Guangdong and Taiwan. In rencent years, Sichuan, Hunan, Hubei and Guizhou provinces also produce oolong teas. North Min oolong teas are produced in Jianyang, Wuyi mountian, Jian’ou, Shaowu and Zhenghe, Wuyi Yan Cha 武夷岩茶 – Wuyi Rock Tea is the most famous one e.g. Da Hong Pao (Photo left 1: Real Rock- Zhen Yan and left 2: Half Rock- Ban Yan), Yancha Foushou (Photo left 3),Tieluohan, Baijiguan, Shuijingui, Bantianyao, Wuyi Rougui and Wuyi Shuixian etc.. Besides normal oolong pruducing processes, North Min fine oolong add some other processes, roasting, screening and winnowing etc., among all, the fine manipulation and roasting techniques make North Min oolong more special.

South Min oolong teas include Tie Guan Yin, Huang Jin Gui (Photo left 1), Mao Xie (Photo left 2), Ben Shan, Yongchun Foushou, Bai Ya Qi Lan (Photo left 3), Mei Zhan, Zhangping Shuixian and Ba Xian-Eight Immortals etc., most of these teas are famous of high fragrances, low fermentations to keep the freshness, clear and sweet tastes. ‘South frgrance and North liquid 南香北水’ could summarize the differences of South and North Min oolong teas. From fermented degrees, South Min oolong is lighter than North Min, so tea liquid of South Min is bright and clear, and of North is relatively dark and mellow. From appearances, South Min oolong teas need to be rolled extra in bags during producing precesses, so the dry appearance is curly and solid, and North Min looks loose, thin and long.

Guangdong oolong teas are from Chaozhou areas, including Fenghuang-Phoenix Shuixian 凤凰水仙, Fenghuang Dancong-Single Bush 凤凰单丛 (Photo left 1: Orchid fragrance, left 2 Almond fragrance and left 3: Duck Shit- Ya Shi), because the producing processes originate from Wuyi rock tea, the styles of genres are similar to Wuyi teas. Fenghuang Dancong teas are the outstanding individual plants of Fenghuang Shuixian, each single plant has its own shape and characteristics, because fresh tea leaves from each single plants need to be harvested and processed individually, that is the reason of the name of Dancong- Single Bush. According to single bush sorts, the classifacation bassed on fragrances has been used, there are more than 10 kinds.

Taiwan oolong are Wenshan Baozhong, Dongding oolong, Taiwan high mountain tea (Ali mountian tea Photo), Muzha Tie Guan Yin and Baihao oolong-Oriental Beauty. Taiwan oolong tea varieties has been transplanted from Fujian province since Qing Dynasty, the initial producing processes used the half-fermented method of Wuyi Rock tea, after years of developments, Taiwan tea people create processing systems of their own. Nowadays, some Fujian tea farms start to use high mountain tea leaves from same tea varieties to produce Taiwan style oolong, e.g. Gao Shan Oolong, which gives even more special flavours and fragrances.

 


 

Phoenix Single Bush

As the most expensive breed among Phoenix Daffodil teas, Phoenix Single Bush 凤凰单丛 [fèng huáng dān cóng] is popular domestically as well as overseas. The unique elegant, flowery fragrance and charm depend on the breed itself and its special processing techniques. Phoenix Single Bush grows in Mountain Fenghuang (Phoenix) in east Guangdong Province, where many breeds with different fragrance types exist. Picked and processed bush by bush according to different fragrances, the bright green Phoenix Single Bush has pretty leaves, good color, sweet taste, special fragrance and lasting flavor. Phoenix Single Bush has a combined fragrance of flowers and fruits, with a mild but rich taste. Grayish-brown leaves are thick and straight, producing bright orange tea liquid. Brewed leaves are “green with a red edge”, its fragrance lasts for as many as seven infusions.

Normally, leaves are harvested in springs, but winter oolong tea should be harvested around the Frost’s Descent (18th solar term), Xue Pian 雪片 – Snowflake with a special sweetness, and extreme high and long-lasting fragrance has a low yield and a relative higher price. Dry tea  is lighter in color, bigger in size and no sense of nay bitterness.

 


 

North Min Oolong, Da Hong Pao and Rou Gui

Dahongpao 大红袍 , a premier Oolong tea is the most famous among Wuyi famous bushes. The original plants grew at Jiulongchao, amid the steep cliffs of Mountain Wuyi, nuture by various mountain springs. Organic ingredients in the water and the soil make Wuyi an ideal environment for Dahongpao. Carefully picked and processed, each leaf is compact, bright green edged with red, tea liquid is bright yellow. The most outstanding features are its strong orchid fragrance and its sweet “charm of rock” aftertaste. Dahongpao endures repeated infusions, nine times without losing its taste.

Wuyi Rou Gui‘s biggest feature and advantage is its sharp and unique aroma. Cinnamon, also known as Yugui, is native to Ma pillow peak in Wuyi Mountain or Huiyuan rock. However, it is no doubt that this tea is a native species of Wuyi. Rou Gui tea has been discovered for more than 200 years. Because of its excellent quality and stable character. Now it has not only become the best variety of Wuyi rock tea, but also widely introduced in other places. The aroma of Rou Gui is not only peculiar, but also extremely sharp. After brewing, smell it carefully, and people will feel the special fragrance in the hot air. It goes straight to the top of people’s forehead like a hairspring, which gives people a boost. Some of the best Rou Gui, the flavor of each soup changes, very charming. Just because the aroma of Rou Gui is particularly strong, which is better than other varieties of rock tea, some people describe the aroma of cinnamon as “domineering”.

There are two kinds of finished Rou Gui tea in Wuyishan Market: strong and light flavor tea. Strong flavor is the traditional type. Strong ferment strong fire skill, the appearance of dry tea is dark, the tea soup after brewing is golden and red, with caramel flavor and gloomy and lasting aroma. The light fragrance type is improved on the traditional technology, highlighting the aroma of Rou Gui. After brewing, the color of tea soup is light yellow, the aroma is pure, and it is very strong and sharp.

 


Aijiao Oolong

Aijiao– Short legged oolong, also known as soft branch oolong and small leaf oolong, is mainly produced in north Min, Dongfeng Town, Jian’ou City, Fujian Province. One of the clonal varieties of tea tree, which is the top grade of Oolong tea and has a cultivation history of more than 100 years. It is native to Jianou, Beiyuan Tribute tea base, Fujian Province and the century long oolong tea plantation in Dongfeng town. The predecessor of this plantation is Beiyuan imperial tea garden in Song Dynasty. Tea production has a history of more than 1000 years. It is the birthplace of “Qingxin Oolong” and “Dong Ding frozen top Oolong” tea, which are internationally renowned in Taiwan.

Jian’ou is the most famous ancient tea capital in history. Ancient tea garden sites can be seen everywhere in the countryside of Jian’ou. These ancient tea garden sites are scattered like pearls in various towns of Jian’ou. Cai Xiang’s <Tea Record 茶录> and Zhao Ji’s <Treatise on Grand Sight of Tea 大观茶论> have all mentioned the site of “Beiyuan Tribute Roasting” Beiyuan tribute tea garden, which is located in Jianzhou, Fujian Province, the relics of stone inscriptions in Beiyuan tribute tea garden of Song Dynasty were discovered on the hillside of Linlong, Baoqian natural village, Peiqiao village, Dongfeng Town, Jian’ou City, Fujian Province in 1985.

 


 

South Min Oolong, Tie Guan Yin, Jin Guan Yin

Made from tender leaves of Tie Guan Yin 铁观音 [tiě guān yīn] trees, it is the king among all Anxi teas, and the name of Tie Guan Yin refers to both tree and tea. Anxi Tie Guan Yin has been discovered in Xinping Town, Anxi, during Qing Dynasty. Its curly, compact and heavy shape is like a green dragonfly’s head, describing “Guan Yin’s (goddess of mercy) beauty and iron’s weight”. Tie Guan Yin tea is characterized by bright green leaves with red spots covered by white fuzz. Tie Guan Yin has strong and enduring flavor, flowers and fruits fragrance and various aromas. A clear and golden tea liquid has a strong and mellow taste, with a sweet aftertaste and lingering fragrance. Brewed leaves are thick and as bright as silk, a unique fragrance could fill a whole room as soon as you lift the teapot cover. Traditional processed Tie Guan Yin is used charcoal to lightly roast, strong charcoal roasting Tie Guan Yin has special flavors.

 

Jin Guan Yin 金观音is a new kind of oolong tea from hybridization tea trees of Tie Guan Yin and Huang Jin Gui, cultivated by Cross breeding in 1978-1999, Tie Guan Yin was used as female parent plant, Huang Jin Gui as male parent plant.  Oolong tea from this variety has a green emerald color, a high and enduring fragrance of Tie Guan Yin, a golden-yellow liquid and a mellow sweet taste like Huang Jin Gui.

 


 

Eight Immortals

Eight Immortals 八仙 [bā xiān] is a new oolong tea variety bred by Zheng Zhaoqin in 1968 with the help and guidance of experts. In 1994, Baxiancha was approved as a China national tea variety by the national tea variety Approval Committee, and became the first national oolong tea variety since the founding of the people’s Republic of China. Baxian tea is characterized by high fragrance and long lasting aftertaste. Boiling water down only 10 seconds, a strong aroma, to the mouth, there is a hint of bitterness in the tea fragrance, fine aftertaste, but there is a sweet, preserved on the tip of the tongue for a long time. After two or three teapots of boiling water, the tea color is still strong and the taste is still mellow. In the middle and late 1980s, there was an upsurge of planting Baxian tea in Zhao’an county. At the peak, the planting area reached more than 20000 mu, which were once exported to Japan.

Baxiancha is from the Zhao’an Town of Fujian Province, a varity of small tea trees was transplanted bred in 1968, leaves are used to make green, oolong and black tea, because of its extreme high fragrance and a long after taste, Eight Immortals oolong tea has been considered to be the best. According to different fermented degrees, there are many kinds of Eight Immortals oolong (Photos). Normally, leaves are harvested in springs, but Eight Immortals winter oolong tea should be harvested around the Frost’s Descent (18th solar term), Xue Pian 雪片 – Snowflake with a special sweetness, and extreme high and long-lasting fragrance has a low yield and a relative higher price. Dry tea  is lighter in color, bigger in size and no sense of nay bitterness.

 


 

North Min Shui Xian and Shouth Min Zhangping Shui Xian

Shui Xian tea is a famous tea created by tea farmers in Fujian. It is one of the excellent varieties of Chinese tea and one of the oolong teas in Fujian. It is native to Northern Fujian. A thousand years ago, this kind of tea tree existed in Jianyang and Jianou, but it was artificially cultivated during the reign of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1662-1722) more than 300 years ago. Shui Xian tea ranks first among the 48 “national tea varieties in China”, and is also the first of 41 semi arbor large leaf tea varieties in China. It is the only tea variety originated in Jianyang City, Fujian Province.

Jian’ou is the most famous ancient tea capital in history. Ancient tea garden sites can be seen everywhere in the countryside of Jian’ou. These ancient tea garden sites are scattered like pearls in various towns of Jian’ou. Cai Xiang’s <Tea Record 茶录> and Zhao Ji’s <Treatise on Grand Sight of Tea 大观茶论> have all mentioned the site of “Beiyuan Tribute Roasting” Beiyuan tribute tea garden, which is located in Jianzhou, Fujian Province, the relics of stone inscriptions in Beiyuan tribute tea garden of Song Dynasty were discovered on the hillside of Linlong, Baoqian natural village, Peiqiao village, Dongfeng Town, Jian’ou City, Fujian Province in 1985.

 

Zhangping Shui Xian tea has a long history and profound tea culture. Tea planting began in the Yuan Dynasty, and had a considerable scale in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, with special tea processing workshops. The Ming Dynasty Zisha teapot unearthed in Zhangping shows that Kung Fu tea and tea drinking culture were popular in Zhangping long ago. Deng guanjin, a tea man from Shuangyangzhong village in Zhangping, created the world’s unique tea category Shui Xian tea brick with original technology in 1914, which is unique among dozens of Oolong tea varieties produced in Zhangping. Zhangping tea brick combines the preparation method of Shui Xian in Northern Fujian and Tieguanyin in Southern Fujian. It is pressed into a square tea cake with a certain specification of wood mold. The production process of Zhangping tea cake is as follows: fresh leaves, drying green, airing green, making green (alternating shaking green and airing green), killing green, rolling, modeling (including modeling and finalization) and baking.

It is a specialty of Zhangping City, Fujian Province and a geographical indication product of China. Zhangping Jiupengxi area is the main producing area of Zhangping tea. Its superior natural environmental conditions have formed the unique quality of Zhangping tea. Shui Xian tea brick is the only pressed tea in Oolong tea. It has rare quality and unique style. It has a strong traditional flavor. It has a high and quiet aroma, a natural flower fragrance like orchid. It can be stored for a long time and resistant to brewing. The fine products have orchid flower fragrance, good throat moistening, sweet aftertaste returning, and drink more for a long time without hurting the stomach, It sells well in Western Fujian, Guangdong and Xiamen, and is exported to Southeast Asian countries and regions. Won the gold award of China Agricultural Expo and China Agricultural and sideline products Expo.

Shui Xian Tea Brick from Zhangping is the only pressed kind of oolong tea,  which was developed by Deng Guanjin in 1914. From unearthed Ming Dynasty Zisha teapots in this region, Zhangping has a long history of producing tea. Zhangping Shui Xian Tea is very rare and unique with a rich traditional flavours to warm stomach, a high fragrance of daffodil flowers, a sweet aftertaste and a bright red-yellow tea liquid. Brewed leaves are obvious “green with a red edge”.

 


 

Bai Ya Qi Lan

According to legend in the Qianlong Period of Qing Dynasty (1735~1795) , beside a water well in the Pinghe town, there was a peculiar tea tree, new sprouts and leaves were in white-green color.  The oolong tea made of these leaves has special orchid fragrances and bright apricot yellow tea soups, therefore, people called it Baiyaqilan – White Sprout Special Orchid. Manufacturing processes are very similar to Tie Guan Yin’s, but its fragrances are unique, unlike other oolong teas‘ fragrances, (Huang Jin Gui’s sweet-scented osmanthus fragrance,  Ben Shan’s Aglaia odorata fragrance, Shui Xian’s daffodil fragrance, Dan Cong’s yulan magnolia fragrance, Mei Zhan’s honey peach fragrance and Eight Immortal’s carambola fragrance) Bai Ya Qi Lan has a mysterious mixed orchid fragrance.

 


 

Reprocessed Oolong Tea

Ginseng Oolong 人参乌龙 [rén shēn wū lóng] tea is a special kind of reprocessed Oolong, made by processing tea leaves with ginseng leaves or crushed ginseng, together with some other ingredients. Good quality Ginseng Oolong has medical functions. It is not difficult to judge the quality, brewed leaves spread the quicker the better during infusion.

Orange/Pomelo Peel Oolong and Bitter Gourd Oolong are two innovative reprocessed Oolong teas. How to produce them? First, scoop out the center of oranges, put aging oolong tea inside and bake for 72 hours at a relative low temperature.

 


 

Osmanthus Oil Cut and Tie Guan Yin

Oil Cut black oolong tea is the main product developed by the Research Office of Fujian Longzhongtang Tribute Famous Tea ecological park and sold to Japan. Therefore, in order to adapt to the sales market in Japan, it is named “oil cut black oolong tea”. Oolong tea is a fermented tea. In the fermentation process, catechins polymerize to form the unique tea polyphenols of Oolong tea. The more oolong tea polyphenols are contained, the deeper and darker the tea will become, so it is called “oil cut black oolong tea”. According to the needs of selling, it is named “oil cut”. Oil cut means that fat is cut off. “Oil” refers to human fat. “Cut” in Japanese is the nominalization of verbs, which refers to being cut off. This term first appeared in Japanese health food, especially products, which can reduce fat absorption. Beauty, anti-aging, weight loss and blood pressure reduction, cancer prevention… According to the needs of selling Fujian longzhongtang tribute famous tea ecological park in Japan, it is named “oil cut”. Oil cut means that fat is cut off. “Oil” refers to human fat. “Cut” in Japanese is the nominalization of verbs, which refers to being cut off. This term first appeared in Japanese health food, especially products, which can reduce fat absorption.

Osmanthus tea has the effects of Warming Yang Qi, expelling toxins in the body, relieving cough and resolving phlegm, maintaining health and moistening lung. In the processes of collection, preparation, , production and packaging, it strictly goes through 8 processes, such as tea material preparation, fresh osmanthus harvest, tea material scenting, flower heat dissipation, screening flower residue, drying and re drying, packaging and quality storage. The real estate system is most prosperous in Guilin, Guangxi, Xianning, Hubei, Chengdu, Sichuan and Chongqing. Osmanthus oolong is a traditional export product of Anxi, Fujian, the hometown of Tieguanyin. It is mainly sold to Hong Kong, Macao, Southeast Asia and Western Europe. Osmanthus oolong is mainly prepared from summer and autumn tea of that year or the next year.

 


 

Spring and Autumn Tie Guan Yin

“春水秋香 Spring Soup Autumn Fragrance”, first, autumn Tie Guan Yin (Ti) has stronger fragrances than spring Ti, because of the higher content of flavonoids mixtures, which helps to maintain a healthy heart and good circulation and reduce blood clotting. Second, more iron elements, vitamins and amino acids have been found in spring Ti, which makes it a longer enduring and better flavour and than autumn Ti. Third, leaves from spring are emerald green and tender; and leaves from autumn are fresh green and thick.

 

 


 

Natural Aged Tie Guan Yin

After drying and cooling processes, Ti Kuan Yin tea is sealed, stored in warehouses or cellars of stone and wood structures for a natural aging processe, and taken out and baked by charcoals for 30-60 hours after each one or two years. According to the changing period of its contents, aged Ti Kuan Yin could be classified into several grades: 5, 10, 15, 18 and 28 years, 10 to 28 years old Ti Kuan Yin are the best. Different from normal green Ti Kuan Yin, dry tea of aged Ti Kuan Yin is black and shiny, its tea soups are dark yellow and enduring with a sweet aftertaste. Aged Ti Kuan Yin helps to digest and to reduce blood pressures and body fats.

 


 

Distinguish Tie Guan Yin from other similar oolong teas (Mao Xie and Huang Jin Gui)

Huang Jin Gui derives its name from its golden 黄金 [huáng jīn] tea liquid and its osmanthus 桂 [guì] taste. Different from Ti Kuan Yin, Huang Jing Gui is made from tender leaves of Huangdan tea trees, so crude tea leaves are called Huangdan in production areas. Huang Jin Gui is one of the best Anxi teas, which grows in Luoyan area of Anxi County. Its tea soup is mellow, with a fresh osmanthus fragrance, leaves are bright yellow, soft and thin with a yellowish-green center and red edge.

Huangdan tea, the product name of tea is Huangjingui. It was originally produced in Luoyan, Anxi during the Xianfeng Period of the Qing Dynasty (1850-1860). Huangdan is another best oolong tea which is different from Tieguanyin in style. The processing technology is very exquisite. Only by mastering properly, can give full play to its variety characteristics. In 1984, Huang Dan was recognized as “national improved variety” in the national evaluation meeting of improved varieties of tea. In 1985, Golden Osmanthus was named “China famous tea” by the Ministry of agriculture, animal husbandry and fishery and China tea society. Due to the characteristics of tea variety and production, the unique quality of Huangdan is formed. The “noble spirit” of Huangjingui tea, which is made from Huangdan, is mainly displayed in the “one early and two wonders”. Huangdan is usually picked in the middle of April, more than 10 days earlier than other varieties and nearly 20 days earlier than Tieguanyin. It is famous for “knowing Huangdan when you smell the fragrance”. In ancient times, it has the reputation of “first smell through the fragrance before you taste 未尝天真味,先闻透天香”. Sipping it gently, the taste is mellow, sweet and fresh. It has won the market because of its unique quality and early harvesting.

Because its tips of tender leaves are covered with white hair, Hairy Crab 毛蟹 [máo xiè] was given its name. Originally grown in Daping of Anxi, Mao Xie is easy to cultivate and has a good adaptation of environmental changes and a high yield. Its tea soup is bluish-yellow or golden with a strong orchidlike fragrance and a light and mellow flavor.

 


 

Mei Zhan and Hei Dan

Mei Zhan 梅占 tea variety is original from Anxi Lutian with a more than 100 years’ cultivation history, it is usually produced into green, black and oolong teas, green tea as Baimaohao- White Hair Monkey, black as Bailin Gongfu. Since the flowers of this variety look like wintersweet flowers 梅 [méi], Mei Zhan is named.

 

Hei Dan is C.sinensis cv. Heidan, native to Panshan, Shuangmei village, Daping Township, Anxi County, Fujian Province, and has a cultivation history of about 60 years. It is cultivated in Anxi County and oolong tea area in Southern Fujian. The buds and leaves have strong fertility and tenderness. The peak growing period of one bud and three leaves is in mid April. The output is high, with more than 150kg oolong tea per Mu 667 square meters. Dry tea is of high quality, tight knot, brown green color, rich aroma, mellow and sweet taste.

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