Taiwanese oolongs vs. Chinese oolongs?

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Apr 13th 16 11:04 am
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Taiwanese oolongs vs. Chinese oolongs?

by Bok » Apr 13th 16 11:04 am

Have been curious about people’s oppinions on Oolongs from Taiwan as compared to China (not wanting to start a political debate here :mrgreen: )

I wonder if it’s worth to order Oolong from China, e.g. Yancha etc.
Or if I do not better invest my money in the teas I can get locally at a significantly lower price even for high quality teas…
Been eyeing a few shops, but in general Chineses oolongs (good quality) seem to be a lot more expensive than my gaoshans.
So far I have only had green Tieguanyin from China (the toxic green variety) which was awful to put it mildly… a lot like oolongs I had from Thailand. I also do not count in the restaurant Yamcha roasted oolong variety, which is what it is…

How do our fellow chatters see the price value of Chinese oolongs?

Another concerns of teas out of China is pollution, which is much less an issue, or at least better to verify, in Taiwan.

Sidenote:
I have friends in China who wanted to do organic farming but where unable to so, as the soil itself is so polluted that it anihilates any effort to grow something organic… in the end they turned to aquaponics, circumventing the soil.

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Apr 13th 16 12:22 pm
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Re: Taiwanese oolongs vs. Chinese oolongs?

by jayinhk » Apr 13th 16 12:22 pm

Bok wrote:Have been curious about people’s oppinions on Oolongs from Taiwan as compared to China (not wanting to start a political debate here :mrgreen: )

I wonder if it’s worth to order Oolong from China, e.g. Yancha etc.
Or if I do not better invest my money in the teas I can get locally at a significantly lower price even for high quality teas…
Been eyeing a few shops, but in general Chineses oolongs (good quality) seem to be a lot more expensive than my gaoshans.
So far I have only had green Tieguanyin from China (the toxic green variety) which was awful to put it mildly… a lot like oolongs I had from Thailand. I also do not count in the restaurant Yamcha roasted oolong variety, which is what it is…

How do our fellow chatters see the price value of Chinese oolongs?

Another concerns of teas out of China is pollution, which is much less an issue, or at least better to verify, in Taiwan.

Sidenote:
I have friends in China who wanted to do organic farming but where unable to so, as the soil itself is so polluted that it anihilates any effort to grow something organic… in the end they turned to aquaponics, circumventing the soil.
Fujian is still fine...Hangzhou? Nope. I don't drink Hangzhou longjing. Good Wuyi is lovely stuff. Come to HK! Or fly over to Fujian.

Apr 13th 16 1:21 pm
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Re: Taiwanese oolongs vs. Chinese oolongs?

by ethan » Apr 13th 16 1:21 pm

Before you spend more $ for Chinese oolongs, I think you should buy the more expensive teas of Taiwan. E.g., if you have been drinking medium-quality gaoshan because you like it enough & think it a good value, why would you double your cost for Chinese on a gamble? Using your own values, it would need to be > twice as good as what you usually drink.

$ for shipping might be > a ride on the rapid transit & a gondola ride to take you to some wonderful roasted oolongs, black TGY, etc (2-4000 per jing). Or the bus to Pinglin to the shop just down from the tea museum where medium-quality Dongfang Meiren was 2000 per jing & top quality 4000 (after a few seconds of bargaining).

Dr Chen will pack as little as 50 grams of teas that are too expensive for us to buy in large quantities.

On the other hand if Jay or someone else we know w/ a great palate finds a wonderful tea, especially a type we don't have access to usually; then it could make sense to order.

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Apr 13th 16 2:06 pm
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Re: Taiwanese oolongs vs. Chinese oolongs?

by Tead Off » Apr 13th 16 2:06 pm

Bok wrote:Have been curious about people’s oppinions on Oolongs from Taiwan as compared to China (not wanting to start a political debate here :mrgreen: )

I wonder if it’s worth to order Oolong from China, e.g. Yancha etc.
Or if I do not better invest my money in the teas I can get locally at a significantly lower price even for high quality teas…
Been eyeing a few shops, but in general Chineses oolongs (good quality) seem to be a lot more expensive than my gaoshans.
So far I have only had green Tieguanyin from China (the toxic green variety) which was awful to put it mildly… a lot like oolongs I had from Thailand. I also do not count in the restaurant Yamcha roasted oolong variety, which is what it is…

How do our fellow chatters see the price value of Chinese oolongs?

Another concerns of teas out of China is pollution, which is much less an issue, or at least better to verify, in Taiwan.

Sidenote:
I have friends in China who wanted to do organic farming but where unable to so, as the soil itself is so polluted that it anihilates any effort to grow something organic… in the end they turned to aquaponics, circumventing the soil.
If you want to drink Wuyi teas, there is no choice but to order Chinese grown teas. Same for the various regional black teas and greens. I would never think to order gaoshan oolongs from China. OTOH, TGY from Taiwan can be very good if you find a good roaster.

I wonder why you think Chinese teas are more expensive than Taiwan tea. I think more or less the opposite is true. Sure, you can buy less expensive teas in Taiwan but they really don't compare to the better grades which you have to pay more for.

The pollution issue is always a concern no matter where a tea comes from. Regarding Yancha, it is forbidden to use pesticides in the protected zone. Of course, you hear stories of farmers breaking the rules, etc. You have to ask a lot of questions and sort through the answers, and then you will still probably not know what is true and what is not.

Apr 13th 16 2:18 pm
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Re: Taiwanese oolongs vs. Chinese oolongs?

by Bok » Apr 13th 16 2:18 pm

ethan wrote:Before you spend more $ for Chinese oolongs, I think you should buy the more expensive teas of Taiwan. E.g., if you have been drinking medium-quality gaoshan because you like it enough & think it a good value, why would you double your cost for Chinese on a gamble? Using your own values, it would need to be > twice as good as what you usually drink.
Exactly my thoughts so far, Ethan!

Apr 13th 16 2:23 pm
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Re: Taiwanese oolongs vs. Chinese oolongs?

by Bok » Apr 13th 16 2:23 pm

Tead Off wrote:
Bok wrote: If you want to drink Wuyi teas, there is no choice but to order Chinese grown teas. Same for the various regional black teas and greens. I would never think to order gaoshan oolongs from China. OTOH, TGY from Taiwan can be very good if you find a good roaster.

I wonder why you think Chinese teas are more expensive than Taiwan tea. I think more or less the opposite is true. Sure, you can buy less expensive teas in Taiwan but they really don't compare to the better grades which you have to pay more for.
Wuyi is the kind of teas I was getting curious about.

From the few vendors I was looking at, it seemed to me that the good grade stuff was rather expensive as to what I pay for my medium to high grade tea from Taiwan. Which is why I was curious how it compares taste wise.

So in other words, objectively as far as that is possible, my question is if it is good value for money?
Say top grade Wuyi compared to a top grade Gaoshan.

For example I know that even from a good chinese green, the number of infusions is going to be lower so all in all less value for the money.

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Re: Taiwanese oolongs vs. Chinese oolongs?

by jayinhk » Apr 13th 16 2:25 pm

If you remember ethan picked a Taiwanese Wuyi-style tea at Wistaria that was excellent, but nothing like any Wuyi I've ever tried.

I do think trying Chinese oolongs would be interesting so you can see how they differ from the Taiwanese kind. Fujian TGY is a completely different beast from Muzha TGY too. As for Wuyi, you pretty much have to go Chinese for the real deal...I'd feel like I was missing out without Da Hong Pao and Shuixian in my life, and good Rougui is amazing.

I don't think you'd have any trouble ordering a small quantity by mail. I sent Tony (Origin Tea) a bunch of samples several years ago without issue. Yunnan Sourcing has a good variety for fair prices. The JKTeashop sampler is a good way to try different Wuyicha too. Much of my good oolong is in my warehouse, so I can't pack you up a box of samples...I sure miss my shuixians! :(

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Apr 13th 16 2:27 pm
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Re: Taiwanese oolongs vs. Chinese oolongs?

by jayinhk » Apr 13th 16 2:27 pm

I know you have access to really excellent Wuyi in Taiwan, but I've never bought any there and can't tell you how prices compare for quality. I do know MarshalN has bought Wuyi there, though, so he felt the tea he bought was worth the money. Maybe buy one liang at a time and see if you find something you like?

Apr 13th 16 2:47 pm
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Re: Taiwanese oolongs vs. Chinese oolongs?

by Bok » Apr 13th 16 2:47 pm

jayinhk wrote:I know you have access to really excellent Wuyi in Taiwan, but I've never bought any there and can't tell you how prices compare for quality. I do know MarshalN has bought Wuyi there, though, so he felt the tea he bought was worth the money. Maybe buy one liang at a time and see if you find something you like?
good suggestions, will have a look into that!

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Apr 13th 16 4:59 pm
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Re: Taiwanese oolongs vs. Chinese oolongs?

by Tead Off » Apr 13th 16 4:59 pm

Bok wrote:
Tead Off wrote:
Bok wrote: If you want to drink Wuyi teas, there is no choice but to order Chinese grown teas. Same for the various regional black teas and greens. I would never think to order gaoshan oolongs from China. OTOH, TGY from Taiwan can be very good if you find a good roaster.

I wonder why you think Chinese teas are more expensive than Taiwan tea. I think more or less the opposite is true. Sure, you can buy less expensive teas in Taiwan but they really don't compare to the better grades which you have to pay more for.
Wuyi is the kind of teas I was getting curious about.

From the few vendors I was looking at, it seemed to me that the good grade stuff was rather expensive as to what I pay for my medium to high grade tea from Taiwan. Which is why I was curious how it compares taste wise.

So in other words, objectively as far as that is possible, my question is if it is good value for money?
Say top grade Wuyi compared to a top grade Gaoshan.

For example I know that even from a good chinese green, the number of infusions is going to be lower so all in all less value for the money.
We're talking apples and oranges. Nothing is like Taiwanese gaoshan and nothing is like Wuyi oolongs.

I would say, in general, Taiwanese oolongs are more expensive than Chinese. There may be exceptions, though, like real Da Hong Pao, Bai ji Guan, and some others. But medium grade Wuyi teas can be very good. My suggestion would be to go for the JK Teas Zhengyan samples. Much better than any of the YS Wuyi. Tea Urchin also has some lower priced ones that are good.

Value for money is a subjective concept. And, often a very deluded one.

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Re: Taiwanese oolongs vs. Chinese oolongs?

by jayinhk » Apr 14th 16 3:18 am

TeadOff, have you tried any of YS' yancha offerings? I can't say I have as I tend to buy yancha locally.

JKTeashop's yancha is much more delicate than what I get here from some of Hong Kong's oldest merchants; using my regular high roast TGY/SX pin zini pots meant I tasted virtually nothing of JKTeaShop's Wuyi. The first time I used finer zini, I was blown away by the difference. With yancha and Chinese oolongs in general, it does appear that the pricier stuff is much more delicate and subtle than the middle grades, and the low grades can be downright unpleasant! Rough and bitter with unpleasant flavors. From now on, I test all new teas in porcelain first.

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Apr 14th 16 3:49 am
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Re: Taiwanese oolongs vs. Chinese oolongs?

by Tead Off » Apr 14th 16 3:49 am

jayinhk wrote:TeadOff, have you tried any of YS' yancha offerings? I can't say I have as I tend to buy yancha locally.

JKTeashop's yancha is much more delicate than what I get here from some of Hong Kong's oldest merchants; using my regular high roast TGY/SX pin zini pots meant I tasted virtually nothing of JKTeaShop's Wuyi. The first time I used finer zini, I was blown away by the difference. With yancha and Chinese oolongs in general, it does appear that the pricier stuff is much more delicate and subtle than the middle grades, and the low grades can be downright unpleasant! Rough and bitter with unpleasant flavors. From now on, I test all new teas in porcelain first.
For the price, the JK teas are a good starting point for yancha. Their sampler packs are very good and from there you can pick and choose which teas you like and order more.

I found the YS yanchas to be lacking in depth and lost interest in them. They seem committed to price, not quality.

Tea Hong remains a mystery to me. It's hit and miss with them. Jing Tea Shop has the worst turnaround and customer service so I don't bother with them.

Tea Urchin is a solid seller with a good range of yancha from mid to high.

I only know these Asian sources and I wouldn't be surprised if there are good sources in USA and UK. Postcard teas in UK has some very good stuff, not cheap. Sometimes it's better to pay more for better quality if you really want to both learn about and enjoy the teas. Not everyone can, but with all your traveling about, you can't lack the money to buy good teas. :lol:

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Re: Taiwanese oolongs vs. Chinese oolongs?

by jayinhk » Apr 14th 16 4:42 am

Agree, but when I live in Hong Kong, buying tea from the US or UK or just seems silly! Aside from establishing a baseline for comparison as you said. I use established HK dealers' offerings as my baseline and I still feel what I get locally is excellent, and better than anything from JKTeashop. There's a reason why Mainlanders buy wuyicha down here! They even resell HK tea at a profit on the Mainland. PayPal also takes a huge bite out of profits from Western-facing vendors. I lose around 7.5% of revenue on sales through my site to PayPal, after fees and currency conversion.

Nowadays I tend to stick to oolongs from HK-based Fujianese and Teochew vendors who have been around for generations, but being able to gamble on offerings available exclusively to the Chinese market for very low shipping definitely has its charm, too. That's also a heck of a lot of fun vs buying from sites that anyone can buy from, and the potential of finding a deal is perhaps much higher.

I really need to learn Mandarin so I can tackle tea markets better, and even visit farmers! Airfare to Fujian is as little as $200 roundtrip. I fly when I get a deal and stay in midrange accommodation. Great way to see Asia! :)