Enter the amazing world of Oolong teas. Oolong teas are semi oxidized in a wide range from low (20%) to high (80%). This type of tea means “little dragon,” due to its twisted shape of the tea leaf, a leaf shape you find for some Chinese Oolong teas.
This tea type is normally not just for the quick cuppa. It has the amazing ability to be infused many times and that is part of the journey with this tea. The aroma and flavor with each infusion is changing slightly with different balances on the flavor scale. It is like a dance on your palate.
My most special tea is an oolong , Gardenia Dan Cong, what I call my ceremonial tea. You will find a previous blog post on this site describing this amazing tea in more detail.
My Oolong experience focuses around 2 main groups – Oolong teas from China and Oolong teas from Taiwan. I am sure there are other countries (did I mention that there are Darjeeling Oolongs? I even have a Yixing pot dedicated to Darjeeling Oolongs). These two geographical areas produce different types of this amazing tea. Taiwanese oolongs are tightly rolled leaf balls or pallets, while some Chinese Oolong teas are twisted leaves and some are similar to the Taiwanese variety. One famous Chinese Ooolong is Tieguanyin (the iron goodess of mercy). The tea appearance are little pallets and it has an amazing fruit and berry flavor.
Some of the most amazing Oolong teas are called high mountain oolongs from Taiwan. Their amazing flavor and long lingering aftertaste makes them truly special. Try some Taiwanese Oolong from Gao or Ali Shan and you won’t be disappointed. Another great example is Oriental Beauty, originally called Formosa tea. A very special treat with a very long lingering pleasant aftertaste.
Another special area for Oolong tea is the Wuyi Mountain range in China. This tea is also called rock tea as the tea plants are literally growing on the mountain rocks. The minerals make it into the flavor of the tea and it is quite spectacular. One of the best and one of my favorite is Big Red Robe, a very famous Chinese tea.
Oolong teas are not too sensitive to higher temperature but it should be carefully monitored to achieve the best result for the flavor of the tea. The brewing vessel for the tea is also quite important. I like to use Yixing clay tea pots as they bring out the best in this tea and its multiple infusions. They are little tea pots and concentrate the flavor and most importantly store the flavor in the memory of the pot. Each new infusion adds to this flavor profile so it is the collective memory of all infusions combined. Quite amazing and it is well worth to invest in a high quality yixing tea pot from China as the flavor will be outstanding. You can also use a gaiwan to brew your oolongs in.