Shopping for Oolong tea: How to buy Oolong tea?

When you walk into a tea shop as a new customer, Various kinds of tea stored in large cans in a tea storethese are the kinds of questions the staff will ask you, so they can help you find tea that you will enjoy:

  • * Would you prefer lightly, medium, or heavy fermented Oolong tea?
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  • * What sort of tea do you usually drink? Green tea or black tea?
  •  
  • * What price range would you like?


Even if the tea shop staff do not ask you, these questions are still worth considering to help you find out which tea is most suitable for you. 

Light Oolong

Lightly fermented. Fermentation is 10% to 25%.
For example: High Mountain Oolong

Lightly fermented Oolong tea is very popular in Taiwan. It's probably the best way of preserving the fragrance of the tea. The tea has a sweet, very flowery aroma, and the colour is light green. Tea farmers are careful not to ferment this tea too long, because high mountain tea has the strongest natural fragrance of the common tea varieties; over-fermentation would ruin this natural fragrance.

The only case in which you should probably avoid drinking too much of this kind of tea is, if you don't have a very healthy stomach, because too much might give you a stomach ache.

Lightly fermented Oolong is like a good table wine in quality and function. Price is about NT1,200 to NT2,400 (US$35-70) for 600g.

High mountain Oolong can be compared to very fine white wine. The price is at least NT$3,000 (US$100) for 600g.

Dark Oolong

Medium fermented. Fermentation is 25% to 45%.
For example: Dongdin Oolong

This is the typical Oolong tea most people experience in overseas Chinese restaurants. This brown tea tastes mellow, with a fruity aroma. It is more popular among older people, as they think it is more soothing for their stomach.

I would compare this tea to red wine. The price is about NT$1,500 to NT$2,400 (US$45-70) for 600g.

 

Black Oolong

Heavy fermented, fermentation is 50% to 70%.
For example: White Tipped Oolong

This is very similar to ordinary black tea in the West. And this is one of the best Oolong teas in Taiwan. White tipped is the tea made from the tea buds... The tea plants are always organically grown. The tea is smooth and sweet, and the color is like amber. This is very popular among experienced tea drinkers and experts.
I would compare this tea to very fine wine. Price is at least NT$3,000 (US$100) for 600g.

Aged Oolong

Completely fermented. Fermentation is 100%.

It tastes mellow, and a little smoky, but very smooth. To age this kind of tea takes from 3 years to 30 years. And the tea is roasted every few year during this process.

I would compare this tea to very fine wine. Price is at least NT$3,000 (US$100) for 600g.

Read more articles about making tea

Read about our tea-making class

 

Photo by Joyce Tay

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The more I learn about Chinese tea, the more I realize how little I know.

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