Oolong tea, one of the six major categories of tea, is a partially fermented tea that combines the delicate aroma of green tea with the richness of black tea. Oolong tea originated in Fujian, China, and is crafted through processes such as withering, oxidation, fixation, rolling, and roasting after the plucking of new tea leaves. Today, there are many varieties of oolong tea, which can be roughly categorized based on their production regions into Minbei Oolong, Southern Fujian Oolong, Guangdong Oolong, and Taiwan Oolong. What are the distinctive characteristics of oolong teas from these four regions? Let's explore them together.
"Fujian" refers to Fujian Province in China. Northern Fujian encompasses the northern region of the province, which includes famous tea-producing areas like Wuyishan, Zhenghe, Shaowu, Jian'ou, and Jianyang.
Minbei Oolong boasts a wide variety, with no fewer than a few hundred types. Its most notable features are the emphasis on tea varieties and roasting. Minbei Oolong teas undergo a heavier oxidation during the rolling process, without the kneading step. The dry tea leaves have a lustrous color, and they possess a ripe aroma. The tea liquor is bright orange-yellow, and the leaves exhibit a distinct combination of three red edges and seven green centers.
Representative oolong teas from Northern Fujian include Da Hong Pao, Tie Luo Han, Bai Ji Guan, Shui Jin Gui, Ban Tian Yao, Bu Zhi Chun, Wu Yi Shui Xian, Rou Gui, Jianyang Shui Xian, and Lao Jun Mei, among others.
Among these, Wuyi Rock Tea stands out as a well-known category of Minbei Oolong, characterized by its "rocky rhyme" (a unique mineral and floral fragrance). Wuyi Rock Tea is mainly produced in the Wuyi Mountain area, where tea bushes grow within rocky crevices. Varieties like Da Hong Pao, Tie Luo Han, Bai Ji Guan, and Shui Jin Gui belong to this category.
Minnan Oolong, as the name suggests, refers to tea produced in the northern regions of Fujian Province, China. This area includes well-known tea-producing regions like Anxi, Yongchun, Hua'an, and Zhangping.
Minnan Oolong is renowned for its intricate craftsmanship, often described as "meticulous work yields fine results." It not only pursues a tight and well-rolled appearance but also offers a diverse range of styles. The appearance of Minnan Oolong teas is characterized by a curled semi-spherical or balled shape, which is tightly compact and robust.
The color typically ranges from sandy green to dark brown, with some teas displaying a reddish hue.
The aroma, mainly featuring the fragrance of orchids, is naturally rich and long-lasting. The flavor is mellow and returns with a sweet aftertaste.
Among these, TieGuanyin and Huangjin Gui are the most famous and highly regarded. These two oolong teas are known for their unique appearance resembling the head of a dragonfly, their golden-hued liquor, the delicate and lingering aroma of orchids, and their ability to withstand multiple infusions while retaining their distinctive fragrance.
Guangdong Oolong refers to teas produced in the eastern regions of Guangdong Province, including areas such as Chao'an, Raoping, Shantou, Jiedong, and Puning.
In terms of craftsmanship, Guangdong Oolong mainly draws on the strengths of Minbei Oolong while developing its own distinct character. Guangdong Oolong places a strong emphasis on post-fermentation and rolling, with its most notable feature being the pursuit of "mountain charm," particularly in its aroma. The appearance of Guangdong Oolong teas primarily consists of strip-shaped leaves, tightly rolled, robust, slightly twisted, and somewhat slender.
The color tends to be a lustrous greenish-brown or dark brown, often with small white spots resembling frog skin. In terms of aroma, Guangdong Oolong exhibits a variety of natural floral and fruity fragrances, with a strong and intense aroma. The flavor is rich, with a pronounced sweetness and significant aftertaste, making it suitable for multiple infusions.
Representative oolong teas from Guangdong Oolong include Fenghuang Dancong, Lingtou Danshu, Fenghuang Shuixian, Shiguping Wulong, and Raoping Sezhong, among others.
Among these, Fenghuang Dancong is a treasure, and it involves the cultivation of outstanding individual plants selected and propagated from the Fenghuang Shuixian tea tree population, with more than 80 different varieties.
Leveraging its unique ecological, climatic, and environmental conditions, various regions in Taiwan cultivate tea. The total area devoted to tea cultivation in Taiwan is approximately 23,000 hectares, with the primary focus on oolong tea.
Taiwan Oolong has its roots in Fujian but has undergone some modifications in its processing. A distinctive feature of Taiwan Oolong is the presence of stems within the tea leaves, but these stems tend to be relatively soft and contain more juice. Taiwan's unique kneading technique enhances the high-mountain tea's character, making Taiwan Oolong particularly renowned for its high-mountain charm. The appearance of Taiwan Oolong teas is primarily characterized by strip-shaped or semi-spherical leaves, tightly rolled and robust.
Taiwan Oolong comes in a wide variety of types, and the color varies depending on the specific variety. It is known for its diverse natural floral and fruity fragrances, as well as hints of creamy notes. The aroma is high, clear, and elegant, while the flavor is sweet, clean, and mellow.
Representative oolong teas from Taiwan include Dong Ding Oolong, Wenshan Baozhong, Oriental Beauty, Alishan Tea, Qingxin Oolong, Jin Xuan Tea, Lishan Tea, and Cuiyu Tea, among others.
Interested in trying oolong teas from different regions? Purchasing them one by one can be both expensive and challenging to find authentic options. Does that mean only those extremely knowledgeable about tea have a chance to buy and savor these classic oolong teas? We recommend exploring oolong teas through tea sampler to discover the ones that suit your taste.iTeaworld offers two great oolong tea collection packs. One is a more affordable oolong tea selection, and the other is a fresh oolong tea sampler, picked in 2023.
Both collections contain 4 teas.
Oolong Tea Sampler: Da Hong Pao, Tie Guanyin, Minnan Shuixian, and Fenghuang Dancong.
New Oolong Tea Sampler: Da Hong Pao, Tie Guanyin, Zhangping Shuixian, and Fenghuang Dancong.
These four teas originate from the Northern Fujian, Southern Fujian, and Guangdong regions, allowing you to fully experience the flavors of oolong teas from different areas with just one box.
As oolong tea has spread and with advancements in technology, variations in processing techniques due to different origins and tea tree varieties have led to a diverse array of oolong tea styles. So, for those of you who love tea, what type of oolong tea do you prefer the most?