We recently tasted six of our finest Taiwanese Oolong teas at a tasting. Ah Li Shan – Zhang Shu Hu, Shan Lin Xi Green, Dong Ding Green, Dong Ding Charcoal Baked, Dong Ding Three Roses and Shan Lin Xi Charcoal Baked.

Taiwanese Oolongs are renowned for their floral, light aroma and taste, compared with China’s more robust and darker oolongs. The first tea plants were brought from China to Taiwan during the mid 19th century and these flourished in Taiwan’s misty mountain areas. Today some of the finest oolongs are attributed to the small island nation. In recent years Taiwan has worked hard to expand and develop a wide variety of Oolongs, with success.

Dong Ding tea, translated as Frozen Summit, is from the Dong Ding Mountain Region of central Taiwan where the first tea plants were planted. The leaves are hand-picked, mildly fermented and tightly rolled and can be steeped several times. Dong Dings are lightly floral and sweet with a nice full-bodied taste. Dong Ding Three Roses, a competition winning Taiwanese Oolong has a medium charcoal bake and tastes smooth, mildly sweet, lightly fragrant and yet robust.

Ah Li Shan oolongs, from Southern Taiwan, are the highest grown of all Taiwanese Oolongs. These fine oolongs are grown as high as 7,200 meters where the thin air brings a slow maturing tea leaf that is plucked just twice a year. The leaves are large in size and usually include one bud and four leaves and the tea is lightly oxidized, therefore somewhat green. The Zhang Shu Hu is green in appearance and taste, light and floral, a great starter tea for our tasting; the flavor develops with multiple steepings. ah-li-shan Shan Lin Xi Charcoal Baked, grown in Central Taiwan, is a heavily baked oolong with a robust aroma and flavor. Originally, Oolongs were baked to keep the tea fresh for a longer period of time, and now this method is reserved for some of the finest Oolongs. A tea farmer will know in advance if his tea is ultimately going to be charcoal baked or not, this will in turn affect how he or she grows, picks and processes the tea.

Taiwanese Oolongs have evolved in a short period of time in the tea world, which dates back thousands of years. The first tea plants were brought to Taiwan directly from Fujian Province, China, just a short distance across the Taiwan Strait. Fortunately, the tea plants flourished and some of the greatest oolongs can be attributed to the high, misty mountains of Taiwan.
All of these oolongs can be found at http://www.teahousekuanyin.com/oolong-teas.html

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