Luxury Ingredients: Oolong tea
Country of Origin: Taiwan
Region: Northern Taiwan
Shipping Port: Taipei
Grade: Oolong - 'amber style'
Altitude: 400 - 1200 feet above sea leve
Manufacture Type: Oolong
Cup Characteristics: A tea with a thin liquor and a bakey but somewhat sweet fruity character
Infusion: Tending black (noting the longer fermentation time for this type of oolong)
Oolong means semi fermented. After rolling, the tea is allowed to ferment only until the edges of the leafs start to turn brown. The tea is then fired which arrests the fermenting process and captures the interesting character associated with Oolong tea. In Taiwan, producing oolong tea involves highly specialized skills in the control of the withering, oxidation and firing. A slight variance in any of these gives each variety a distinctive aroma, flavor, color and finish.
The best Oolongs come from Taiwan (Formosa) where the character of short-fired oolongs has been described as peachlike with a refreshing fruity herbaceous character whereas long-fired oolongs take on bakey notes with rich amber liquids. This tea falls into the latter category.
It is worth noting that in Taiwan, the making of oolong tea is regarded as a precious art that requires years of training. From the nursing of a seedling, to planting, to nourishing the bushes, to properly selecting the best time to pluck the leaves, the husbandry of the tea farmer is a legacy passed down from many generations. It is felt that only the application of years of dedicated study and practice, combined with the unique character of Taiwan tea leaves, can provide the exceptional quality oolong teas that have made the island famous for its teas.
An interesting footnote: During the 2nd World War the production of tea was greatly expanded while the island was occupied. This production was exported to Japan to supplement their own production which was falling below domestic demand.
Hot tea brewing method:
Oolongs teas are best enjoyed when the leaves are briefly infused with hot water which is then poured off. The tea is then reinfused and tea is poured to the lucky guests after about 1 minute. The leaves may be reinfused several times, with each resulting infusion yielding a different liquor from the proceeding cup.
Iced tea brewing method (makes 1 quart): Place 6 teaspoons of Formosa oolong into a heat resistant pitcher. Pour 1 1/4 cups freshly boiled water over the tea. Steep for 5 minutes. Quarter fill a serving pitcher with cold water. Pour the tea into the pitcher straining the leaves. Add ice and top-up with cold water. Garnish and sweeten to taste.