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Probably the finest Oolong tea’s in the world
Posted on May 31, 2016
come from Taiwan and they are often described as being the ‘champagne of tea’s’.
Oolong tea, also known as Wulong tea is a semi-fermented tea as compared to green and white tea which are un-fermented and black tea which is fully fermented.
Taiwan has a unique climate which is ideal for growing extremely high quality oolong tea. The climate is sub-tropical and with mountains as high as 13,000 feet or 3939 meters the air is cool yet moist. This climate, combined with the mountainous terrain, and rich dark soil, produce tea bushes with leaves that are robust, thick, and soft, to create some of the best Oolong’s in the world.
The flavours of Oolong change dramatically from season to season. Oolongs harvested in the spring and winter is considered to be superior to teas harvested in the summer and autumn. This is because of the different weather conditions at the time of harvest. The cool, foggy conditions in the spring and winter give a much more succulent leaf. Spring flavours are generally robust with a lovely flowery note, whilst winter flavours tend to be crisper and lighter.
The processing of the tea after harvest accounts for much of the diversity and uniqueness of Taiwanese oolongs. After the leaves are picked they are dried in the sun for several hours, then taken indoors where they are gently shaken in bamboo baskets or a rolling drum. This shaking ‘bruises’ the leaves which starts the fermentation process. The aroma begins to develop at this stage. The leaves are then rolled into the shape of a pearl or twisted sideways into a thin strip. When they have been shaped they are fired at high temperatures to stop any further fermentation. Once the tea is dried it is known as raw tea which may be further roasted to enhance the flavour and aroma. The lightly roasted teas usually retain more of a floral character, whilst the medium and dark roasted teas develop sweeter, fruitier tastes.
High mountain Oolong tea retains all the nutrients and natural healing elements as green tea but without the raw grassy taste and harsh effect on the stomach that can make green tea disagreeable to some people. The very brief fermentation process of oolong tea eliminates the harsh irritants from the raw tea. It also doesn't contain the tannins that are found in black tea, and the resulting oolong has a unique wealth of subtle flavours.
The skilled tea makers and the cultivation of Oolong tea can be compared to the production of fine wine, with each mountain and plantation producing it own unique bouquet of flavours and aromas. Top quality Taiwanese high mountain Oolongs are among the grand cru’s of fine tea, with Alishan and Tung Ting among the best examples. Alishan Oolong has a fresh, floral, creamy taste and aroma whilst the Imperial Tung Ting offers a deliciously mild, sweet, fresh creamy tasting tea with undertones of honey and nectar.
As well as a tea with an exceptional range of flavours and aromas, high mountain Oolongs has incredible medicinal and health benefits. Well known in traditional Chinese medicine for aiding digestion and detoxification, recent research has shown that Oolong tea has powerful cleansing and protective properties for the lungs. The studies show that smokers who drink Oolong daily have significantly lower rates of lung cancer and other respiratory disorders than those who don’t. Packed full of healthy antioxidants, known as polyphenols and catechins, drinking this tea daily can provide strong protection against the development of all types of cancer. As a mild diuretic it promotes the flow of toxins from the body thus acting as a natural detoxifier. It also alkalises the digestive tract, mouth and stomach which eliminates the bacteria responsible for bad breath. Drinking Oolong tea regularly can also reduce blood pressure, balance the levels of blood sugar, and reduce levels of cholesterol preventing arteriosclerosis, heart disease and strokes. As high mountain Oolongs also contain vitamins A, C and E as well as essential minerals and trace elements, drinking the tea helps to boost the immune system and improve overall health.