Help Identifying Light Oolong

Owes its flavors to oxidation levels between green & black tea.


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Oct 8th, '08, 16:28
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Help Identifying Light Oolong

by motokochan » Oct 8th, '08, 16:28

A former co-worker gave me some oolong tea a while back. His brother had picked it up on a trip abroad (to Taiwan, I think), but he liked the smokier oolongs.

I'm curious as to if anyone can help me identify this. The only identifying English on the package is the "Oolong Tea" on the outer box.

I posted pictures of the packaging, tea, and brew over on my gallery and hope they can help.

If anyone wants to translate the text, I'd also be interested to know what it says.

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Oct 8th, '08, 16:36
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Re: Help Identifying Light Oolong

by wyardley » Oct 8th, '08, 16:36

motokochan wrote:A former co-worker gave me some oolong tea a while back. His brother had picked it up on a trip abroad (to Taiwan, I think), but he liked the smokier oolongs.

I'm curious as to if anyone can help me identify this. The only identifying English on the package is the "Oolong Tea" on the outer box.

I posted pictures of the packaging, tea, and brew over on my gallery and hope they can help.

If anyone wants to translate the text, I'd also be interested to know what it says.
The characters on the front of the box say (I think) 高山烏龍茶- gao1 shan1 wu1 long2 cha2, i.e., high mountain oolong, so pretty generic. Typical Taiwanese light style rolled oolong; can't read enough to tell if it says anywhere on the bag whether it mentions a specific mountain, but maybe someone else can chime in there. The English instructions on the bag are similar to a couple teas I received as gifts.

I would guess it's at least pretty decent quality tea, though probably not the very best. But of course hard to say without drinking it. This style of tea is very popular, and seems to be the one you're most likely to get as a gift (because good high mountain oolongs can fetch very high prices).

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Oct 8th, '08, 17:14
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by Victoria » Oct 8th, '08, 17:14

Definitely looks like a decent quality high mountain green oolong.

How did it taste? It looks very tasty, clear and bright.

Like wyardley says, hard to say which one, my guess would be Li-Shan.
But history shows I'm a poor guesser. :?

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Oct 8th, '08, 18:35
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by motokochan » Oct 8th, '08, 18:35

Very clear and kinda vegetable tasting. No bad aftertastes.

Not all that good cold (I have a bit still in that mug I just sipped), but still drinkable. Much better hot.

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Oct 8th, '08, 19:39
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by gingkoseto » Oct 8th, '08, 19:39

To tell which cultivar the tea tree is, the best way is to look at fresh tea leaves or take the spent whole leaves (but there may be confusions). I've seen some pictures of spent leaves, but have never been to a field to see the fresh leaves, so I can't always tell which is which.

Taiwan "high mountain oolong" refers to Taiwanese oolong from tea trees grown at more than 1000 meters (or 3000 feet) above sea level - not including dong ding oolong, which refers to oolong from Dong Ding Mountain only.

The high mountain oolong uses mainly 4 cultivars. Generally speaking, in an order from more expensive to less expensive, they are: Ching Shin Oolong (Green Heart Oolong) > Jin Xuan < > Tsui Yew (green jade) > See Jee Chun (Spring Year-around). But this is just general pricing, and there are a lot of variations depending on quality of tea and how well it is processed.

If you feel a vegetable tasting, it is not likely green heart oolong or jin xuan. Probably green jade or see jee chun.

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Oct 8th, '08, 19:54
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by motokochan » Oct 8th, '08, 19:54

Thanks for the information. I'll take a quick photo of the spent leaves next time I drink it (no time today, unfortunately).

The second steep was much smoother than the first. I experimented and lowered the water temp a little, but lengthened the steeping time by about a minute. I now get an aftertaste, but not unpleasant. I'll be taking my third steep on the road in a travel cup to enjoy on my 30 minute drive home.

Still hoping for a positive identification from the packaging though.

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Oct 8th, '08, 19:55
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by tsusentei » Oct 8th, '08, 19:55

I love quizzes.

Well, after importing vast quantities of tea, I can say one thing definitively: bags mean nothing. This one came in a box and says High Mountain Tea, so yes, it is probably from Taiwan, otherwise it would say Tie Guan Yin (^^). It looks like a late Spring or late Autumn harvest and it probably not from the current year, given the more open condition of the leaf, though impossible to tell without tasting since the date spaces were left blank.. I wouldn't want to comment on varietal without a tasting. Looks like it could use a roast for freshening up?? That might be a good thread, to see how everyone roasts their oolongs.

Thanks for the mind game!

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by Salsero » Oct 8th, '08, 20:22

gingko wrote: Taiwan "high mountain oolong" refers to ...
Thanks for the cultivar detail, Gingko!

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Oct 8th, '08, 21:35
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by Chip » Oct 8th, '08, 21:35

gingko wrote:To tell which cultivar the tea tree is, the best way is to look at fresh tea leaves or take the spent whole leaves (but there may be confusions). I've seen some pictures of spent leaves, but have never been to a field to see the fresh leaves, so I can't always tell which is which.

Taiwan "high mountain oolong" refers to Taiwanese oolong from tea trees grown at more than 1000 meters (or 3000 feet) above sea level - not including dong ding oolong, which refers to oolong from Dong Ding Mountain only.

The high mountain oolong uses mainly 4 cultivars. Generally speaking, in an order from more expensive to less expensive, they are: Ching Shin Oolong (Green Heart Oolong) > Jin Xuan < > Tsui Yew (green jade) > See Jee Chun (Spring Year-around). But this is just general pricing, and there are a lot of variations depending on quality of tea and how well it is processed.

If you feel a vegetable tasting, it is not likely green heart oolong or jin xuan. Probably green jade or see jee chun.
Very interesting post, Ginko. I can agree with 90% of what you said, but can agree to disagree with the other 10%. :wink:

My understanding is that Dong Ding will not always refer to oolong grown on Dong Ding. It can also refer to a particular style of Taiwan oolong. This is partly why it can be so variable perhaps. This was not always the case. But demand has outstripped supply.

Of course, if a Taiwan oolong is from one of its major mountains such as Ali Shan or Li Shan, I would expect the packaging to proclaim such information. High Grown sounds like generic nomenclature/offering.

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Oct 9th, '08, 02:34
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by motokochan » Oct 9th, '08, 02:34

Okay, got some confirmation from a friend in China.

The main black writing is "High Mountain Tea".

The writing on the right with the red background is something like "This kind of tea is the top class"

The writing on the lower left of the box are something like "good wishes".

I'm paraphrasing from what I was told.


Also, the tea held flavor on the third infusion really well. It probably could have gone at least two more. I might have to try that when I have the time to do an all-day session.

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by Salsero » Oct 9th, '08, 14:27

I have noticed a tendency to call anything from Taiwan "High Mountain," even when it may not be too high up on a mountain. The highest quality teas tend to specify things like exactly how high on which mountain or near what town. Not that this tea is bad. It could be a great everyday tea, but is not likely to rival the best that the island has to offer.

In private correspondence, Stéphane of TeaMasters observed of this thread:

  • The leaves are simply too small to be high mountain oolong.
    Indeed, the cultivar is more likely Si Ji Chun or Tsui Yu and
    these 2 cultivars are mostly found close to sea level.

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by Chip » Oct 9th, '08, 14:41

Salsero wrote:I have noticed a tendency to call anything from Taiwan "High Mountain," even when it may not be too high up on a mountain. The highest quality teas tend to specify things like exactly how high on which mountain or near what town. Not that this tea is bad. It could be a great everyday tea, but is not likely to rival the best that the island has to offer.
True dat!

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by wyardley » Oct 9th, '08, 14:51

Salsero wrote:I have noticed a tendency to call anything from Taiwan "High Mountain," even when it may not be too high up on a mountain. The highest quality teas tend to specify things like exactly how high on which mountain or near what town. Not that this tea is bad. It could be a great everyday tea, but is not likely to rival the best that the island has to offer.

In private correspondence, Stéphane of TeaMasters observed of this thread:

  • The leaves are simply too small to be high mountain oolong.
    Indeed, the cultivar is more likely Si Ji Chun or Tsui Yu and
    these 2 cultivars are mostly found close to sea level.
Also, I think there are also definitely cases of mainland tea being sold as Taiwan tea, and vice-versa.

Guang wrote something on his site about being able to tell if something is high mountain or not by the way it behaves when you try to crush the pellet between your fingertips.

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by xuancheng » Oct 10th, '08, 09:24

Like some other people said, this bag has no information on the tea. The production date and expiration date are left blank, and there is no information on the bag about where it comes from, what varietal it is, or even what year the tea was produced. All of the writing on the bag is poems and nice sounding (but meaningless in terms of info about the tea.) couplets, etc. This is the kind of bag that could be used to package almost any Taiwan tea.

The leaves do look very small, and it is pretty twiggy. I don't know much about Taiwan Oolong, but too many twigs can change the taste especially when stored for several months.

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by gingkoseto » Oct 10th, '08, 10:25

Salsero wrote:
gingko wrote: Taiwan "high mountain oolong" refers to ...
Thanks for the cultivar detail, Gingko!
But sometimes it's hard to tell from processed leaves anyway.
Like what tsusentei said, motokochan brought a nice mind game! Hey we may do more of this! :D

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