5. June 2017

Oolong Tea

Oolong Tea Part 1 ——- 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.


Oolong Tea Part 2 ——- Da Hong Pao

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.



Oolong Tea Part 3 ——- Tie 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.



Oolong Tea Part 4 —— 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.



Oolong Tea Part 5 ——- 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 Groud 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.



Oolong Tea Part 6 ——- Spring and Autumn Tie Guan Yin

“春水秋香 Spring Soup Autumn Fragrance”

First, autumn Ti Kuan 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.



Oolong Tea Part 7 ——- How to 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.

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.



Oolong Tea Part 8 ——- 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.



Oolong Tea Part 9 ——- Eight Immortals – Winter Oolong

Eight Immortals 八仙 [bā xiān] tea 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.



Oolong Tea Part 10 ——- Zhangping Shui Xian

Shui Xian 水仙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”.



Oolong Tea Part 11 ——- 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.


Oolong Tea Part 12 ——- Jin Guan Yin

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.


Oolong Tea Part 13 ——- Mei Zhan

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.



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