There is a plethora of teas out there. And since you landed here on this blog, you must already be extremely proficient on the differences between the types of teas. Today, more specifically, we will be looking at the Oolong category. Oolong tea is an amazingly complex and diverse category. In this brief article, we will give a general overview on the two main types of Oolongs grouped together by their oxidation levels . This article is not meant to be used as a complete definitive guide that covers everything, just a quick primer to get you on the way to selecting your first Oolong. With that ...off we go!
Main Oolong Growing & Producing Regions: China, Taiwan
Up and Coming Growing & Producing Regions: Nepal, Indonesia
1. More Oxidized and Heavier Roasted/Baked: These Oolong teas brew to a deep rich beautiful caramel color. Usually fruity, caramel, nutty and/or malty in fragrance. Anything that smell “woodsy” or anything similar to Bencha (twig tea) is a poor quality tea. Depending on the producing regions, these Oolongs can be shaped into strips or rolled into ball forms.
Famous Representations: Heavy Roasted Dung Ting (Taiwan); Oriental Beauty (Taiwan); Heavy Roasted Iron Buddha (China); Da Hong Pao (aka Big Red Robe, China, all of the Phoenix (China); and lastly all oolongs from Nepal and Indonesia.
2. Lightly Oxidized and Roasted: This is the “greener” and lighter oolongs. Don’t get the “lighter” word wrong, the lighter here does not mean flavor or fragrance, lighter here means color. These are the oolongs that brews to a golden melon yellow color. Floral, milky, and sweet are the usual description for the taste and fragrance of these tea. The lightly oxidized Oolong is always rolled into the ball forms.
Famous Representations: High Mountain Oolongs from Taiwan (Ali Mountains, Pear Mountains, La La Shan, Da Yu Mountain); Lightly Roasted Iron Buddha (an absolute gem when you find the real good ones. China).
Best Harvest: This usually depends on the weather. There is really no rule of thumb here. Summer harvest can be quite stunning if the condition is right. The best is to ask your tea vendor about their weather conditions for the harvest. Wink: 2016 is a tough year in Taiwan and parts of China. Too too much rain & typhoons.
What is the best Oolong tea ? That's a hard and easy question. The short answer ? The best Oolong tea is the one that you want to drink day after day. What are you waiting for ? Go explore!