Loose leaf Oolong tea, also known as “Qingcha”, is a type of semi-fermented tea originating from the Ming and Qing dynasties in China. Developed by Anxi tea farmers based on the green tea-making method, loose leaf Oolong tea first spread to northern Fujian and Guangdong before making its way to Taiwan.
Among the various types of Chinese teas, loose leaf Oolong tea stands out as a distinctive category, earning the reputation of "green leaves with red edges." It is highly acclaimed for its unique aroma and flavor.
For those interested in trying loose leaf Oolong tea, they will discover a wide variety of options. If you are intrigued by loose leaf Oolong tea but lack sufficient knowledge, how can you choose the right one? We recommend exploring your preferences by purchasing tea sampler of Oolong tea. Below, we have selected 10 renowned loose leaf Oolong teas for your reference.
Introduction to the 10 Best Loose Leaf Oolong Teas
TieGuanyin is one of the representatives of loose leaf Oolong tea, primarily produced in the western part of Anxi County, Fujian Province, known as "Inner Anxi." The dry tea leaves of TieGuanyin are tightly curled, robust, and exhibit a sandy green luster, resembling a spiral. Known for its strong and uplifting aroma, TieGuanyin is reputed to have "more than seven infusions of lingering fragrance." It is also believed to possess anti-aging properties, clear heat, and aid in refreshing the mind.
2. Da Hong Pao
Da Hong Pao is renowned as the "king of Wuyi tea" and the "top scholar among teas." The tightly twisted appearance of Da Hong Pao's leaves displays a glossy, dark green-brown color. The dry tea leaves emit a pure and authentic fragrance. When brewed, Da Hong Pao yields a clear and orange-hued tea liquor with a rich and refreshing aroma. The taste is sweet, smooth, and delightful. What distinguishes Da Hong Pao's quality is its rich and enduring fragrance, often described as having a prominent "rock charm."
3. Dongding Oolong
Dongding Oolong hails from Lugu Township in Taiwan, named after its production area on Dongding Mountain. This high-quality tea is well-known in Taiwan, with limited production and a relatively high price. When brewed, Dongding Oolong exhibits a honey-green hue with a hint of golden yellow in the tea liquor. The aroma is elegant, and the taste is rich and sweet.
4. Fenghuang Dancong
Fenghuang Dancong is a type of tea produced on Fenghuang Mountain in Chaozhou City, Guangdong. Known for its excellent quality, Fenghuang Dancong features robust and straight dry tea leaves with a glossy yellow-brown color. The leaves are adorned with vermilion red dots. After brewing, the tea liquor appears bright yellow and clear, with a unique and enduring fragrance. The taste is rich, mellow, and refreshing, characterized by a distinctive "mountain charm."
5. Tie Luo Han
Tie Luo Han tea, developed during the Qing Dynasty's Qianlong period, is produced in the famous Wuyi Mountain in the northern part of Fujian. It thrives and matures in the crevices of rocks. The appearance of Tie Luo Han features tightly twisted leaves with a lustrous green-brown color. When brewed, Tie Luo Han exhibits a bright orange-yellow color, and the leaves display a distinctive beauty with green leaves and red edges.
6. Huangjin Gui
Huangjin Gui originates from the Fujian region and is one of the earliest budding varieties among loose leaf Oolong teas. It is also considered an excellent tea tree variety in China. The aroma of Huangjin Gui resembles the fragrance of cassia flowers. After brewing, the tea liquor takes on a bright golden and translucent color, with a pronounced and uplifting aroma, earning it the nickname "Transcendent Fragrance."
7. Bai Ji Guan
Bai Ji Guan is the exclusive "Dao tea" of Wuyi Mountain. Its unique appearance features leaves in a light green color with white streaks. The tea buds, adorned with fuzz, resemble a crescent moon, giving the appearance of a rooster's comb. The dry Bai Ji Guan tea presents a robust, pale yellow hue with white undertones. When brewed, the tea liquor shines in a bright orange-yellow color, leaving a lingering fragrance on the lips and teeth, with a robust and energetic flavor.
8. Shui Jin Gui
Shui Jin Gui is one of the four famous Ming Cong teas of Wuyi Rock Tea. Its name, meaning "Water Golden Turtle," is derived from the dense and shiny appearance of the tea leaves, resembling a golden-colored turtle. The dry Shui Jin Gui tea displays a glossy green-brown color with thick and lush leaves. The tea liquor is clear, golden-yellow, and the taste is sweet without bitterness or astringency, accompanied by a pronounced and uplifting aroma.
9. Zhangping Shuixian
Zhangping Shuixian is the only pressed tea among loose leaf Oolong teas. The production and flavor of Zhangping Shuixian tea cakes are distinctive. Fresh Shuixian tea leaves undergo processes such as Weidiao(sun-withering), Zuoqing(shaking and setting), Shaqing(killing green) and Rounian (rolling) before being pressed into square tea cakes using wooden molds. After meticulous packaging with soft paper and precise charcoal roasting, Zhangping Shuixian tea cakes acquire a unique style and maintain the traditional flavor. The tea liquor of Zhangping Shuixian shines in a clear and golden color, with an elegant fragrance, exuding a subtle osmanthus aroma.
10. Oriental Beauty
Oriental Beauty tea is a unique loose leaf Oolong tea native to Taiwan, China, also known as Pong Fong tea. It is distinguished by its prominent white downy tea buds, earning it the alias White Downy Oolong Tea. Among semi-fermented loose leaf Oolong teas, Oriental Beauty is known for its high level of fermentation. The taste of Oriental Beauty is rich and mellow, leaving a lingering fragrance on the lips and teeth, providing a delightful aftertaste.
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Tasting Tips for Loose Leaf Oolong Tea
Having a delicious loose leaf Oolong tea is only part of the experience; the right brewing method is essential to fully appreciate the flavor of best loose leaf tea.
1. Choose the Right Tea-to-Water Ratio
For brewing loose leaf tea, it is generally recommended to use a gaiwan. Depending on the gaiwan's capacity, you can choose to use around seven to eight grams of loose leaf Oolong tea. This ratio ensures a well-balanced strength of flavor when brewing Oolong tea.
2. Use Boiling Water for Brewing
During the production of loose leaf Oolong tea, there is a step known as Zuoqing(shaking and setting) that enhances the tea's aroma and complexity. Using boiling water for brewing allows the aromatic compounds in loose leaf Oolong tea to vaporize as much as possible, bringing out the full range of fragrances.
3. Use the Proper Water Pouring Method
When pouring water, aim it along one spot of the gaiwan or Yixing teapot, being careful not to pour directly onto the tea leaves. This helps avoid the rapid release of bitter compounds that can affect the taste of the tea.
During the water pouring process, try to increase the pouring intensity as much as possible. This creates a vigorous movement of the loose leaf Oolong tea in the vessel, facilitating the expression of the tea's inherent qualities and enhancing the taste and flavor of the tea liquor.
These renowned loose leaf Oolong teas each possess unique flavors and rich historical backgrounds. To truly savor their beauty, it is best to experience and experiment with them firsthand. Hopefully, this article has provided you with valuable knowledge about loose leaf Oolong tea, making your tea-tasting journey more enriching and enjoyable.