Taiwanese (Formosa) Tea


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Taiwanese (Formosa) Tea

Postby Charles » Mar 10th, '10, 15:52

This discussion thread is dedicated to questions and comments on the TeaClass lesson: Taiwanese (Formosa) Tea (http://www.teaclass.com/lesson_0308.html). TeaClass is designed to be a free educational tool so if anything is unclear, let us know! We're also using TeaClass to train our own retail store staff so please feel free to share anything you've heard or read that disagrees with the lesson. Our goal is to continually improve this tool based on your feedback.
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Re: Taiwanese (Formosa) Tea

Postby teaisme » Mar 11th, '10, 14:57

"The best leaves are plucked from late May to mid August"

I think many would say the best harvest is the winter one
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Re: Taiwanese (Formosa) Tea

Postby Charles » Mar 11th, '10, 16:09

Thanks for the feedback. A preference for the winter harvest is a new one for me. I know there are specialties - or special teas as the case may be - that are winter harvests. I also know that tea is harvested as late as December in Taiwan (the dormant season is January to March). Are you suggesting that the winter harvest produces some exceptional teas or that the winter harvest is generally preferred and usually most prized?

I've made a few other inquiries to learn more about this but if you can share a source where we might learn more I'd appreciate it.

Thanks!
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Re: Taiwanese (Formosa) Tea

Postby cindyt » Mar 11th, '10, 17:49

Being a native Taiwanese, I am also concerned that we are linking Taiwanese tea to oolong only as brought up by churng already.

I also have a question about having Alishan listed under Dong ding. These are 2 very different geographic regions, in Chayi and Nantou respectively. Traditionally Taiwanese tea use production region as part of the labels since terroir and climate are quite different from region to region. I have never seen tea from these 2 regions put together.
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Re: Taiwanese (Formosa) Tea

Postby teaisme » Mar 11th, '10, 18:09

Yeah in general, when you talk about high mountain oolongs the winter harvest is more preferred and more highly priced/prized in taiwan. I don't think this only has to do with the tea quality, but also the fact that winter harvest is smaller so naturally prices are adjusted too.

Winter teas are said to have a stronger flavour because of the greater temp fluctuations, something about the tea slowing down its metabolism once it gets to a certain temp on a cold night, thus not continuing to metabolize the things that produce the flavour we taste, (read this on hojoteas website in Lishan section) , plus less sun so less bitterness
This makes some sense to me because many plants/herbs seem to do well(more potency maybe?) under moderate stress.

I really haven't been able to do any comparisons to validate this though, just haven't kept spring oolongs around long enough till the winter ones come out (they would have to be same farm too), plus comparison might be a little flawed since your spring oolong would have already aged a little, but when I go visit taiwan that seems to be the general consensus over there

As for a credible source that is not a vendor website online...I will look around and get back to you
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Re: Taiwanese (Formosa) Tea

Postby Charles » Mar 12th, '10, 18:25

Love the feedback. This is what I was hoping would happen. :) I love to learn.

I've heard from a few people and there is a lot of conflicting opinion on the "best" harvest for Taiwanese teas. It depends on the tea. This is no great surprise and so I've simply removed the line.

Regarding the combination of Tung Ting and Ali Shan... I was careful to specify that they are in the same style but not grown in the same region. It may be that a deeper level of specificity will be required at some point, but if the goal is to identify primary groupings would you agree that these two fall into the same category just as Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet are all Bordeaux grapes regardless of where they are grown?

Finally, I've adjusted the language to say that Formosa/Taiwan is known primarily for its Oolong teas. While I have tried Taiwanese Green and Black teas, they are certainly not commonly carried by most US Tea Retailers. Similarly, I've had exceptional White and Green teas from India but they are unquestionably known for their black teas.

Please don't hesitate to disagree if you feel I am still mistaken. Honestly this lesson is shamefully brief so I'll have to work on this anyway. :)
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Re: Taiwanese (Formosa) Tea

Postby cindyt » Mar 12th, '10, 21:39

After re-read the lesson several times, I finally realized the different styles you have are based on levels of oxidation (is this right?). If this is the case then it makes sense. I think my confusion came from the word "style" because IMO even within dong ding (I am talking specifically the tea from the dong ding region) there are different styles depend on how it's roasted. Also the other confusion comes from that only alishan is mentioned. I think you use it to represent "high mountain oolong" in general?
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Re: Taiwanese (Formosa) Tea

Postby Charles » Mar 13th, '10, 10:19

It is a loose, overly generalized categorization at best. I approached this from the perspective of selling tea to a consumer. Both Tung Ting and Ali Shan are tightly rolled green Oolongs with floral aromas and light, sweet cups that (hopefully) have a smooth finish. If someone requests a Tung Ting and (as is the current case of the Adagio Collection) I only carry an Ali Shan, I am comfortable making that recommendation.

I'll leave this discussion in place to let people know there is a lot more that can be said and will return to expand the lesson soon. :)

Thanks for your feedback.
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Re: Taiwanese (Formosa) Tea

Postby edkrueger » Mar 20th, '10, 14:01

Dong Ding is not a High Mountain. Dong Ding is 740 meters at its peak. Alishan area averages around 2500 meters.
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Re: Taiwanese (Formosa) Tea

Postby teaisme » Mar 22nd, '10, 13:30

edkrueger wrote:Dong Ding is not a High Mountain.


yeah I was going to chime in on that too
but I think sometimes when people say dong ding they are referring more to a style of processing nowadays, not the actual tea from dong ding mountain
So some 'dong ding' is more then likely grown at high enough elevations to be considered high mountain
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Re: Taiwanese (Formosa) Tea

Postby Chip » Mar 22nd, '10, 18:54

Yeah, more the style than the origin. I bet world wide, there is 10 times more Dong Ding sold than actually harvested from Dong Ding.

There are other parallels to this in other teas as well.
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Re: Taiwanese (Formosa) Tea

Postby edkrueger » Mar 28th, '10, 17:17

Well, most "Dong Ding" is produced around the mountain in Nantou and therefore, at an even lower elevation.
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Re: Taiwanese (Formosa) Tea

Postby CatnipnHoney » Apr 12th, '10, 21:58

In the Oolong Tea section there is a part that says Taiwan was named Formosa by the Dutch. "Later, when Taiwan began producing tea, it was called Formosa Oolong, after the name given to the island by Dutch explorers ("formosa" means "beautiful")." But in this lesson it is stated that: "Formosa means "Beautiful Island" in Portuguese and was the name given to Taiwan by Portuguese Explorers in 1544." I was wondering which of these two statements were true or if one was a typo.
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Re: Taiwanese (Formosa) Tea

Postby iannon » Apr 12th, '10, 22:05

CatnipnHoney wrote:In the Oolong Tea section there is a part that says Taiwan was named Formosa by the Dutch. "Later, when Taiwan began producing tea, it was called Formosa Oolong, after the name given to the island by Dutch explorers ("formosa" means "beautiful")." But in this lesson it is stated that: "Formosa means "Beautiful Island" in Portuguese and was the name given to Taiwan by Portuguese Explorers in 1544." I was wondering which of these two statements were true or if one was a typo.


Formosa is Portuguese. I dont think they settled the island..the dutch did later. But Ilha formosa is the Portuguese language for Beautiful Island
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Re: Taiwanese (Formosa) Tea

Postby edkrueger » Nov 21st, '10, 14:06

The Portuguese "discovered" and named the island, but never settled it. It was colonized by the Dutch primary, but there were some Spanish settlements in the north.
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