Oolong is the name of a tea category. It encompasses tea that is partially fermented – the more fermented ones taste more like black tea and the less fermented ones tastes more like green tea.
Oolong is usually made into either a strip shape or a bead shape. Strip ones tend to have heavier fermentation (darker leaves and darker brew) verses bead ones are lighter in colour (mostly) and flavour.
Oolong is treasured by many for its “layers” of taste. The first cup is light – leaves are just starting to open. 2nd and 3rd cup (brew) are usually the best as the leaves are more open and the true taste of oolong starts to envelop your senses as you drink!
There are lots of oolong out there – from over roasted inferior grades often found in tea bags and supermarket products to “high altitude grown single estate limited edition” that costs you a few expensive dinners per cup. In Australia, even from tea suppliers, we have seen more of the former than the latter.
Choosing oolong obviously involves personal preference, and tea names such as Tie Guan Yin (Iron Goddess of Mercy) or High Mountain Oolong are only noting certain ways the tea is made – quality can still vary tremendously.
Generally, a good oolong should be fresh smelling without smelling like burnt (roasty is probably ok, but not burnt) and the brewed leaves should be relatively uncut. Beady oolong, in particular, tends to open up into a full leaf with brown (fermented) edges with a fairly large portion of green area in the middle of the leaves (unfermented/low fermention).
Higher altitudes generally produces better oolong but the teamakers craftsmanship as well as climate fluctuations down to the day it is harvested can affect the quality. So again buyers beware of so called high mountain tea that doesn’t live up to its name.
3 areas are known to make oolong – FuJian and ChiuChow in China and Taiwan. Chinese ones generally tend to be stronger in taste, especially from ChiuChow.
Our oolong is generally above average grades compared to others in Australia. Due to numerous requests, we now have “VIP grade” Da Hong Pao from WuYi, FuJian and High Mountain Oolong from Alishan, Taiwan. Their prices reflect the quality and we have to warn you once you have tried GOOD oolong, you will be hooked!
Oolong Tea variety is now available on our website Teas.com.au
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