Formosa, meaning "beautiful" in Portugese, is the name for Taiwan. It is a tea plant's tropical Shangri-La, with high elevation tea gardens that sit atop steep mountain peaks enshrouded in clouds and mist.
Taiwanese oolongs are known for their signature “green fragrance” (qing xiang), which is a result of minimal oxidation. These teas are extremely fragrant and complex while retaining bright and floral notes.
Taiwan is the youngest oolong manufacturing region, yet its teas are renowned for their remarkable mouth feel. The tea leaves display unparalleled caliber and potency, producing a flavor as sublime as the landscape surrounding them.
Without a doubt, Taiwan’s unique terroir provides incredible integrity to its tea leaves. Still, the reputation of its oolongs rests just as much in its distinct style of craftsmanship.
Tea leaves are first picked carefully by hand. In Spring, the harvest begins in low elevation gardens and moves gradually up the mountain; in the Winter, this process proceeds in reverse. Light oxidization follows, never exceeding 10%-30%, to bring forth richness and florals. The leaves are then rolled and low roasted to accentuate sweetness and preserve the tea.
For Taiwanese oolongs, higher elevations will yield higher grade teas.
More cloud cover and gentler climate translate into slower leaf growth, giving time for the leaves to develop more potency and a higher concentration of essential oils.
Weather and season also play determinate roles. Spring harvested Formosa oolongs should be rich, creamy, intense, and unabashedly floral with hints of citrus. Winter teas will express themselves differently –lighter head on, but more aromatic and bright with a smoother and thicker mouth feel.
Regardless of season, the clusters of high grades will unfurl to reveal an intact triple leaf cluster attached to a stem. The tea should produce several infusions and have a substantial “hui gan” or bittersweet finish.
The Standard Lishan, Spring
Traditional Charcoal Roasted Tung Ting
Lishan is the most representative of what a high mountain oolong ought to be, floral, rich with an exceptionally long finish. For a taste of what old style traditionally high-fired Formosa were like, try our Charcoal Roasted Tung Ting.