Guide to Chinese Oolong Teas

21 12 2008

Oolong teas is categorized between black and green tea and often referred to as Blue teas in China. Oolong Teas undergo an oxidation process between 10 – 70% and they are more roasty and defined in flavor rather then delicate like green and white teas.

tie-guan-yinTie Guan Yin – “Iron Guan Yin” (Goddess of Mercy) a famous Chinese tea from An Xi in the Fujian province. It’s very close to green tea, as it undergoes little oxidation, but lacks the green tea astringency. The flavor and aroma also differs greatly depending of if the leaves have been lightly or heavily roasted. There are many varieties of which the nest ones are called Guan Yin Wang, meaning Guan Yin King.

da-hong-paoDa Hong Pao – “Big Red Robe” famous and legendary tea from Wu Yi Mountain, said to have cured the mother of a Ming Dynasty emperor from illness, who ordered the bushes from which the tea came to be clothed in red robes 0 thus the name Big Red Robe or Scarlet Robe. The brown-color leaves have a curled and twisted, non-uniform appearance. It has a rich and deep flavor with a floral note.

dan-congDan Cong – “Single Bush” as the name implies the tea is made of leaves from a single tree. The Dan Cong trees have a single trunk and they grow tall (about 1,8 meters) and straight up. This tea is sweet and peachy.


Shui Xian – “Water Fairy” is a very dark tea with a honey fragrance, originally it’s grown on Mount Wu Yi, the cheaper varieties grown elsewhere in Fujian province have more of a burnt taste. Also referred to as Shiu Hsien or Water Sprite

Fo Shou – “Buddha’s Hand” a tea first introduced during the Song Dynasty, the leaves are tightly rolled and the tea has delicate fruity flavor

Shui Jin Gui – “Golden Water Turtle” has a bright green color after steeping and is one of the famous Wu Yi Rock Oolong Teas.

Tie Luo Han – “Iron Arhat” is one of the famous Wu Yi Rock teas. It’s a strong tea with slightly curled appearance. Also occurs under the name Iron Warrior Monk

Bai Ji Guan – “White Cockscomb” a very light Wuji tea with yellowish leaves. The name came from a story about a rooster who gave up his life protecting his child from an eagle.

Rou Gui – “Cinnamon” – tea with a sweet aroma reminiscent of cinnamon developed during Qing Dynasty. When processed in traditional ways the leaves of this tea have a dark brown color. This tea is also known as Cassia Bark Oolong tea.

Guides – Chinese White | Chinese Yellow | Chinese Red | Japanese Tea




3 responses

14 01 2009

Your pages are truly comprehensive. I believe I haven’t found any other English website with such depth and breadth regarding Chinese tea. In terms of low-oxidation Chinese green tea, I suggest that you must try some high mountain tea from Taiwan, especially “Alishan Ju Lu” and “Lishan Oolong”. Both are planted in mountain areas of at least one thousand meters and renowned for multiple layers of floral aroma in the low-oxidation tea category. Those of highest quality are quite difficult to purchase even in Taiwan and only very small quantity is exported.

I am sorry that there is not much information I can provide you. However, you might find these links rather helpful:

A Japanese research

A travel guide which covered some famous tea production areas in Taiwan

A ebay seller of Taiwan tea (not an acquaintance)

27 06 2009

Like Elsen above, I wanted to comment on adding Taiwan’s Oolong to your Oolong tea guide. Many of the best Oolong tea originates from Taiwan (also known as Formosa) so it deserves a spot on the guide.

I specifically mentioned Formosa as another name for Taiwan because many Oolong tea may say “Formosa Estate” or something similar but it really just means that the tea was grown in Taiwan.

27 06 2009

Dear John

Thanks for your suggestion, this article is specifically about Chinese teas, but there certainly will be articles coming which will focus on Taiwanese teas including oolongs

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