The market for premium teas is so small that it would be easy to overlook it. Most tea houses (and stores) in Europe and America actually prefer not to take the risk of purchasing leaves that cost more than 10 cents per gram according to my experience. But even if there's only a small demand for a high mountain Oolong or a high grade concubine, I feel that it's important for a tea house to have them on its menu. It shows a certain level of understanding and tea passion that can set it apart from other houses. It's like for a restaurant to have fine grands crus classés Bordeaux on their wine list. It shows they are serious and committed to excellence.
without a pitcher). I also showed that with great tea, you don't need to use so many leaves. A layer on the bottom of the gaiwan is sufficient. This is how a tea house can make premium tea more affordable for its customers. And the skilled pour also demonstrates the fact that tea brewing takes skill and calm.
1. "To clean the dry leaves like you would clean a vegetable or fruit before consumption."
The difference is that dry Oolong tea isn't a raw product, because it has been subject to a very high temperature (around 180 degrees Celcius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit) during the kill green process for 8-10 minutes. A lower heat is also later applied to dry (or even roast) the leaves thorougly. This is why most teas, even the most humble tea bag is free of germs and bacterias (and nobody rinses a tea bag, because you'd loose the best flavors after 2 seconds in hot water!)
And for the same reason, nobody is rinsing Japanese green tea. Because the first flavors are the nicest. And why should Taiwan Oolong be less clean than Japanese (or Chinese) green tea?
And how about those Oolongs that have been treated with lots of pesticides and fertilizers? Isn't it better to rinse them? For such leaves, the problems are not limited to the surface of the leaves. The best solution is probably not to drink them at all!
The answer is to do a thorough preheating of the tea vessel. A gaiwan or teapot that is preheated with boiling water will enable the proper opening of the Oolong leaves during the first brew. (It's because many people use the rinse to preheat the vessel that they feel it's necessary).
I demonstrated that it's possible to open even rolled Oolong leaves with just one brew. (This seems a good place to remind you of my Oolong Brewing guide, which summarizes all aspects of my technique. By the way, you get this guide for free with a free 25 gr sample of SiJiChun Oolong if you place a tea order of 60 USD or more on the Tea-Masters.com boutique! )
1. Spring 2015 Alishan Jinxuan, the most affordable high mountain Oolong
2. Spring 2013 Da Yu Ling Oolong, the highest plantation shows it still feels fresh and powerful.
3. Winter 2013 Yong Lung Hung Shui Oolong, the standard Dong Ding Oolong. Balance of roast and freshness.
4. Spring 2013 Concubine Oolong from Feng Huang, high oxidation with an organic method. Sweetness.
5. Spring 1999 Hung Shui Oolong from Yong Lung, the beauty and refinement of aged Oolong.