Taiwan Oolong Teas

Teas can be categorized by the level of oxidation which tea leaves undergo during the production process. There are non-oxidized tea (e.g. green tea) as well as fully oxidized tea (e.g. black tea). Oolong tea is defined as a partially oxidized tea.

Production of oolong tea is mainly concentrated in Taiwan and China's Fujian and Canton province. Taiwan's oolong tea production accounts for ~25% of global oolong tea production.

For Taiwan's oolong teas, oxidation levels can range from 10 - 70%. For this reason, oolong offers tea drinkers a wide range of option in terms of style, aromas, and flavors. Taiwan's oolong teas fall broadly into the following categories:

             Type of Tea                           Oxidation Level

           BaoZhong oolong                         10 - 15%

           High Mountain oolong                   10 - 20%

           TungTing oolong

              - Current trend                         20 - 30%

              - Traditional                             30 - 40%

           BaoHao oolong                            60 - 70%

          (aka Oriental Beauty)

 * A more specific description of each category of oolong tea can be found at the "Collections" section. 

So what is oxidation, and what happens to tea leaves when they are oxidized? In tea making, withered tea leaves become soft as water evaporates and cell walls break down. Oxidation occurs when inner contents of the leaves, in particular tea polyphenols and enzymes, are released and they oxidize or react with oxygen in the air. A series of chemical reaction follow, gradually transforming the withered tea leaves. When the desired oxidation level is reached, the leaves are quickly heated to denature the oxidative enzymes and halt the chemical reactions.     

Generally fragrant teas such as BaoZhong and High Mountain oolong are subjected to less oxidation to preserve the inherent aromas of the tea leaves. With medium and higher-level oxidation, more complexity and nuances in flavors can be coaxed out of the leaves.

In addition to oxidation, the factors contributing to a oolong tea's aroma, flavor, and complexity are numerous. They include - the tea leaves' variety or cultivar, its growth environment (climate and geographical conditions), the drying process, the degree and type of roasting, and above all, the PEOPLE involved in the tea-making process. Tea leaves depend upon the craft and sensibility of our artisan tea makers to help them display their full wonder.