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Major Oolong Teas from China
Outside of Taiwan, the major oolong teas are categorized by the 3 geographic regions in China - Northern Fujian, Southern Fujian, and Guangdong.
Northern Fujian : Wuyi Oolongs, Rock Oolongs, Yancha (cliff tea 岩茶)
Known as the ancestors of oolongs, the Wuyishan 武夷山 region has been making compressed cakes of oolong since the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). Wuyishan oolong was also the first black tea to be introduced and exported to the Western world where the name, oolong, meaning “black dragon”, was lost in translation and shortened as “black” tea.
Wuyi Big Red Robe - Big Red Robe, or Dahongpao 大紅袍, is synonymous with the original mother bushes—just five—growing on an impossible cliff, much too precious for anyone other than Chinese royalty. Deep in the Wuyi Mountain Range, our Wuyi Big Red Robe is cultivated from a 70 year old wild tea tree varietal on the cliffs of Tian Xin Yan, deeply rooted into the rocky ancient volcanic soil as it absorbed the unique qualities of the Wuyi terroir. The heavily roasted style produces a warm and full bodied taste, while boasting superior depths of that smokey high-fire toasted flavor and intensity. This treasure delivers the complexity and mineral finish that is characteristic of a fine Wuyi oolong.
Wuyi Aged Shui Xian Spring 2017 - As one of the darkest oolongs, Aged Shui Xian is usually harvested from very old bushes on the cliffs of Tian Xin Yan, and after its charcoal-roasted using the most traditional method, the tea is sealed to age for years. During dormancy, the flavors of the tea changes and becomes more complex, yet smooth and mellow with notes of smoky tobacco layered with dried fruits and cinnamon. This very special limited reserve is only available in our Berkeley store.
Southern Fujian : Tie Guan Yin, Yellow Gold, Golden Oolong
Tie Guan Yin is the most famous tea from this region, which means Iron Bodhisattva Guan Yin or Iron Goddess of Mercy, because the leaves of the local variety are harsh and heavy like iron. Traditionally, the tea leaves are rolled and heavily roasted, however, new trends of Tie Guan Yin brought upon a vast variety of light roasted, dark roasted, and array of shades in between with flavors ranging from light and floral to smoky and spiced.
Tieguanyin Dark Roast 'Monkey Picked' - Treasure Mountain’s altitude, fog, and light spring rains are met with perfect four-directional winds that together create ideal conditions for pest resistance and optimal growth. However, harvesting at precarious 70-degree slopes at exceedingly high elevations is not at all ideal, so inaccessible as if only monkeys with their incredible climbing skills and care could pick these leaves. Sorry, no such tea picking monkey but our human dare-devil farmers, who also custom roasted our Monkey Picked for 20-hour, and as result, it exudes a deep caramel body that carries pervasive notes of warm-chocolate and spice while deliverying an intoxicating aroma. Such beauty only increased our gratitude and admiration for the farmers’ dedication to their art.
Guangdong : Phoenix Tea
From the old-growth tea trees on the Phoenix Mountain, Guangdong is the only place where Phoenix tea can be produced. Most Phoenix tea, such as Phoenix Honey, is a Single Grove (Dan Chong) Oolong 鳳凰單叢烏龍, meaning that the tea here comes from a single grove of identical tea trees to ensure its particular honey fragrance. Each leaf must be processed by hand and lightly charcoal-roasted in order to retain its bright green center within a deep red perimeter. Its characteristic body of fruit and spice flavors coats the whole palate and lingers without end. As a favorite amongst the most skilled tea connoisseurs, the transformation of this tea from steep to steep is a joy to experience.
Phoenix Honey Medium Roast - While Phoenix Oolong is usually processed with a deeper roasted profile, but for Teance, our farmer has been lightly roasting our house Phoenix Honey oolong to our specifications for the last decade, that is, until last year. To try something new, we sampled three different roasted Phoenix Honey with our customers, and as a consensus, this medium roast was a must on our list. This oolong’s intense aromatics and complex flavor make it delightfully engaging.