Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Taiwan Oolong tea class

Daniel from Australia came for a one-on-one tea lesson. Since he's relatively new to loose tea, I chose to brew the following teas to guide him through the world of Taiwanese Oolongs:
1. Jinxuan Baozhong vs. Jinxuan Hung Shui Oolong. At the end of the 19th century, the tea industry was most active in the north of the island and Baozhong was the major tea produced. Rolling the leaves is a rather recent development and really took off with the mechanization of this process. Hung Shui Oolong became most popular in Taiwan after 1976 and the establishment of the Dong Ding Oolong tea competition. These 2 teas are very affordable thanks to the use of the Jinxuan cultivar (developed by the Taiwan Tea Extension Station in the early 1980s). With this comparison, we found out that Daniel prefers the fresh, flowery notes of a spring Baozhong. 
Jinxuan Baozhong vs Hung Shui
That's why we continued with a comparison of 2 more fresh Jinxuan Oolongs:
2. From Alishan and from Dong Ding. While the history of tea stretches over 1000+ years, it was long mostly green tea. The history of Oolong only started during Qing dynasty (18th century) and is just 300 years old. High mountain Oolong is a much more recent development from the 1990s! High temperature differences and a pure environment provide excellent conditions to preserve the fresh and fine aromas in the leaves.

Since Daniel really enjoyed the taste of Alishan, I brewed the following teas:
3. SiJiChun Oolong from Mingjian and Qingxin Oolong from FuShou Shan. After tasting 4 Jinxuans, and tasting the impact of the terroir and the roasting, it was interesting to taste 2 other cultivars in a fresh, low oxidization mode. The SiJiChun was flowery and pleasant, but it's the qingxin Oolong that knocked us off the ground and provided the most incredible and pleasant aftertaste. The difference between low elevation and high mountain (one of the highest) was loud and clear!
Zhuo Yan vs Concubine
 We finished the class with a comparison of 2 jassid bitten Oolongs:
4. A fall Zhuo Yan Oolong from Shan Lin Xi and this Concubine Oolong from Dong Ding. We had seen the difference between fresh and roasted Oolong. With these 2 Oolongs, we could see the color difference in the dry leaves and in the aromas between low oxidation (from the previous brews), medium oxidation and high oxidation. The Zhuo Yan has a lot of energy, while the sweetness of the Concubine is amazing. And the aromas are richer and more complex thanks to the higher oxidation level.

Taiwan Oolongs are refined and varied. There are so many dimensions to this type of tea (cultivar, terroir, oxidation level, roasting level, season...) I'm glad that I can help clarify all this and help find some delicious teas in the process!
Thank you for coming to attend my tea class, Daniel.


isabella said...

Your journey around the world of tea is so interesting. I really like to read your blog - this is giving me a great orientation about this wonderful passion. Thank you very much for sharing. Many greeting from Germany - Isabella

Unknown said...

Thank you Stephane for a great experience! I learned a lot about taiwanese oolongs and I feel I know a little bit more about how to appreciate this style of tea, and how to choose what buy in the future. It was especially good to gain a first-hand sense for how higher quality taiwanese oolongs feel. I really noticed the sweetness and complexity of the aftertaste, and how it just keeps going and changing. Such an experience!

Thanks for the lesson Stephane, I look forward to more next time I visit Taiwan.