Here’s a great resolution to start the New Year – explore more of the world of tea. That’s a simple and easy enough commitment for just about anyone to make. Here at American Tea Room we encourage you to do just that – by making our incredible and award winning Taiwanese Oolong even more desirable and less expensive.
There are more than 2000 different teas grown in diverse regions throughout the world. As a tea aficionado you might already know that all tea comes from the same plant – the same leaf – camellia sinensis. Just like wine is made from a single botanical (in that case grapes) it’s the climate, the soil, the environment and processing that make each tea unique. Even teas grown under the same conditions and in the same micro climate can be radically different in appearance and taste solely by means of processing.
The most intensive tea to process is Oolong. Often considered “the tea drinkers tea” Oolongs are the artisanal apex of tea making. Some teas are born into the aristocracy of tea: Silver Needles, Darjeeling, Golden Yunnan, Aged Pu Ers. Others teas rise in seasonality and flavor appearing for just a few short weeks like Shincha (early Spring) teas from Japan and Pre-Rain Long Jing from China. The quality of these rare teas makes these teas stand on their own. But some teas need a little more human help–and that is where you find the Oolongs.
Oolongs are really the bridge between green and black tea. The range of taste and flavors is extraordinary: from almost frothy green and light (Bao Zhong) to darker and more robust (Oriental Beauty). While green teas are treated with heat to prevent further fermentation and black teas are let to ferment fully – Oolongs span the spectrum between the two.
No tea is more complicated to produce than an Oolong. The finest Oolongs are grown in the high altitude regions of Taiwan and China. After harvesting the leaves are left to wither in the sun for a few hours and then placed in the shade to cool. The leaves are then placed in a room where there is a constant temperature between 72-77 F and more importantly an 85% level of humidity at which time the leaves are stirred quite vigorously to release the aromas and help facilitate evaporation. The leaves are then roasted which allows the tea enzymes’ reaction to be halted – similar to producing green tea. Finally the leaves are rolled, twisted or shaped into nugget like pearls. Each of these steps is carefully monitored and all done by hand — a true artisan craftsmanship.
So whether you prefer your tea light and green or a bit heavier and darker there is an Oolong for you. The processing of Oolongs naturally removes most of the caffeine, so Oolongs are naturally light on caffeine, less than virtually any tea. This makes Oolongs the perfect afternoon tea or great for after dinner. And now for a limited time American Tea Room makes our artisanal Taiwanese Oolongs so affordable you can try them all and decide which your favorite is.