Thursday, December 11, 2008

Taiwan Oolong vs. China Oolong

Back on Taiwan Teas Study Tour last October, we had a small discussion about how to easily identify different Oolongs on our bus to Tung Ting, Nantou.
Similarly, some participants of STI's Oolong 3 classes did reflect to me that they have this experience: when they finish my Taiwan Oolong session, they thought they got it, they can surely tell the difference among various Taiwan Oolongs now. However, when they completed the China Oolong session, they then got lost again...
It might be true that Taiwan Oolongs are categorized by the Processing, and Most China Oolongs are still remaining to be identified by teas' cultivars. This means in Taiwan, you can easily pick one Oolong, and tell what type of Oolong it is and you have the confidence to brew the tea well accordingly.
Thing does not just happen...I do have the following story to share.
It began long time ago while Master Jackson Huang chaired Taiwan Tea Manufacturers' Association. He and his board members have tried very hard to cut off super complicated names for Taiwan Oolongs on the market. TTMA has figured out different ways to simplify the categories of Taiwan Oolongs and the efforts paid off. I remembered when I was helping TTMA to participate 1996 Fancy Foods Show at Philadelphia...we set up our display with Four teas, four only for a 40' booth. Those 4 teas are Jade Oolong, Amber Oolong, White-Tip Oolong and the Pouchong. We gave away free tea samples with a simple request: you have to tell us which tea by calling the name loud. (*That was really a lot of fun!) After they took the sample, we asked the next question: "Do you know how to make it? Do you want to join us for a hands on tea tasting?" It ends up we have run 36 Tea-One Tasting Classes right at the show and we have seeded 100 plus Taiwan Oolong Tea Specialists. Among them, some now own big tea companies, some run tea stores, some are still teaching at WTE and STI...
Time flies, it is a great memory that I will always enjoy with a cup of Oolong.
What type of Oolong?
Well... give me Pouchong now.
Later, I will like to have a cup of winter Jade Oolong...

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