China and Taiwan are the best known Oolong producing countries in the world today. Chinese tea production reaches back centuries while Taiwan is a relative newcomer with tea production beginning in the early 1700s on the East Asian island known as Formosa. Many Taiwanese teas retain its historic, regional appellation such as our Organic Formosa Oolong. Taiwanese oolongs tend to have a shorter fermentation cycle than their Chinese counterparts, though fermentation also varies according to the type of oolong being made.
Oolong is referred to as semi-fermented. Fermentation is a process which involves drying and roasting the leaves multiple times to produce a specific flavor, color and aroma. Many oolong lovers consider this tea the perfect bridge between unfermented green tea and fully fermented black tea. Generally speaking, oolong teas have lower caffeine levels than most black teas while being higher in caffeine than most greens (with the actual amount of caffeine in a tea depending on several factors including the length of the fermentation process).
In terms of flavor, various aspects determine where an oolong tea lands along the green to black tea spectrum including elevation, when the leaves are harvested, and the length of fermentation. Closer to the green tea end of this spectrum, our Jade Song Oolong from Taiwan has a lovely pale color and delicate flavor reminiscent of its green cousins. By contrast, our Organic Formosa Oolong is noticeably darker in color with a more full bodied flavor including a hint of honey and slightly more caffeine. A delightful middle ground is our classic Fine Ti Kuan Yin which offers a distinctive brandy hue and a slightly sweet yet earthy flavor often attributed to oolongs grown in China.
Loose leaf Formosa oolong tea is a bargain in addition to being delicious! There are many health benefits ascribed to oolong teas and the leaves can be steeped several times with each infusion releasing surprising subtleties in flavor. While oolong tea is a great balance point between green and black to start the day, oolongs are also lovely in the afternoon when caffeine might be a consideration. Even in the heat of the summer months, Citrus Sonata, a subtly flavored oolong from China’s Fujian Province, or Passion Petal, with its exotic mango and rose flavors, are a wonderful pick me up.