Friday, December 03, 2021

Help for choosing an Oolong tea from

Summer 2020 Imperial Oriental Beauty Oolong

Christmas is approaching fast (3 weeks left only!). In my next tea class on video, I'll address the countless reasons why tea is a great gift for friends, family and loved ones. I'll also explain why my online tea boutique is unique, because it's where you can find teas that I've selected personally for their quality. But in this article, I want to go one step further and give detailed advice on almost all my Oolong teas. (I'll do puerhs and red some other day). It's not easy to choose the right tea as there's an infinite choice of teas online. If my boutique's list is quite limited, it's also to focus on quality rather than quantity. But the choice is still hard and so let me try to help the new comers.  

A. SAMPLES are perfect for gifts

If you're not sure what kind of tea your friend likes or will like, select samples or samplers!

B. If your friend is new to tea, start with teas that are easy to brew and good value.

Easy to brew teas are those that don't become bitter easily. While some bitterness can be enjoyable, most new comers are not used to such taste, because commercial beverages are usually heavily sweetened. Also, it's good to start with simpler teas, because they are already so different from regular tea bags that they have the potential to thrill! Such teas are my:

- Si Ji Chun Oolong Dong Pian (the fresh version or the roasted version). It's particularly flowery, because it's harvested in January, the coldest month in Taiwan. 

- Jade Oolong offers more fresh grassy notes. 

- Jinxuan Oolong from Alishan (winter 2020 or spring 2021). The winter version is on sale! With this cultivar, the aromas are even finer, because it's harvested in Alishan mountain, at an elevation above 1000 meters.

- These 2 Wenshan Baozhong (fall 2020 and spring 2021) offer a change from the rolled Oolong leaves. The Baozhong leaves are more spectacular, because they are open and fill a larger space. 

- This naturally scented Jasmine tea is also light and fragrant tea for beginners who enjoy the aroma of jasmine.

C. If your friend has tea experience, then I recommend that you introduce these popular standards:

- Alishan Qingxin Oolong. Hand picked from a high mountain, the Qingxin tea leaves are the most suited for producing Taiwan's most popular type of tea. The aromas are fresh, flowery and the taste is mellow and energetic. This is such a popular type that I carry 5 versions of it: 2 winter 2020, 2 spring 2021 and a winter 2021. The winter and spring harvests are of similar quality and freshness. The slight difference is that winter is a little bit more mellow and spring a little bit more fragrant. Ruifeng has a slightly lower elevation that Chang Shu Hu, which is why it's priced lower. These Alishan High Mountain Oolongs are great value and my best selling teas!

- Shan Lin Xi Oolong. Spring 2021, Winter 2020 and Dong Pian Oolong 2020 (in that order). Shan Lin Xi is another popular High Mountain in Taiwan. Its elevation is a little higher than Alishan. The aromas are more flowery and mellow.

- Wenshan Baozhong 'subtropical forest': This Baozhong is made with the same Qingxin Oolong cultivar as used in the high mountains. It has a similar profile, but the Wenshan terroir turns it lighter and a hint zestier.

- Oriental Beauty Oolong is another extremely famous tea in Taiwan. It's a pioneer in the organic world, because its leaves become honey fragrant if they are bitten by little green insects called jassids. The most classic OB in my selection is this traditional version from Hsin Chu. Since this is a high oxidized tea, it comes close to a red (fully oxidized) tea like Darjeeling, but with much more finesse and natural sweetness.

- The last great classic Oolong from Taiwan is the roasted Dong Ding Oolong. This is the scotch or whisky of teas. The roast creates smoke, molasse and malt notes that feel almost intoxicating! Another nice example of a powerful roast is this Tie Guan Yin.  

D. Teas for the experienced drinkers

1. Diversity of cultivars among Wenshan Baozhongs. The North of Taiwan with the Wenshan are is where Taiwan's tea started to be produced. In this historic region, one can find all kinds of different cultivars, a little bit like in WuYi. This makes exploring Wenshan Baozhongs very interesting, because it contains so many different cultivars and styles!

2. To experience the very best of the high mountains, turn to the highest peaks over 2000 meters high (Qilai shan, Fushou shan, Tian Chi and the mythical Da Yu Ling)!

3. On a special occasion, indulge in an Imperial grade Oriental Beauty!

4. And finally, the category of Aged Oolongs is also proof that great Oolongs are like great wines: they can age for years and get better and better!

2020 Imperial Oriental Beauty Oolong

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