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Teas from Taiwan

Taiwan makes a range of handcrafted oolongs in a different style than the Chinese oolongs. They are light and green and fragrant as well as more oxidized, darker and almost as full of flavor as a black tea. The high quality teas are sought after by tea aficionados all over the world.

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Bamboo Tea Tray

Bao Chong Roasted (2 oz)

In Pursuit of Tea Bao Chong - A different kind of oolong tea

Bao Chong is a famous tea from Taiwan, and considered by many to be the best in fragrant oolongs. Due to its light oxidization and greenish color, this oolong is sometimes classified separately from other oolongs. It is primarily grown and produced in Northern Taiwan, processed according to a tradition that dates back 150 years. The inherited processing skills were further improved by Wen Shan farmers over the next generations. With several towns involved in the production of this tea located near Taipei, more than 2,000 hectares are under cultivation in the Wen Shan district. Its subtropical weather, fertile soil and high altitudes of the surrounding hills make it an excellent environment for tea cultivation.

The Taiwanese enjoy the leaves so much they have made a tasty appetizer out of it by lightly frying the young leaves! We had a chance to enjoy these yummy treats while visiting the farmers.

The leaves of this very greenish oolong are oxidized only about 20%, much less than other oolongs. Harvested individually by hand, picking usually involves one bud, one young leaf and two mature leaves.

After plucking, the leaves are twisted all the way to their tips, and withered for nearly ten hours before heating to "kill the green". During the withering period, the leaves are gently agitated by hand every few hours, with careful attention being paid in turning the leaves. Small amounts are rolled at a time, usually around ten pounds. Careless hand processing could cause the leaves to bruise, which would quickly discolor the leaf, and ruin the high floral aroma that Bao Chong is famous for.

Spring and winter crops produce the best picks for premium grades. Spring crops are thought by many to be the most fragrant, whereas the winter crop tends to be richer in flavor. Although both are considered equally superior, spring yields tend to be higher, making up 40% of a yearly production. Autumn harvested leaves are normally rated second best. The summer harvest yields less tea, and is mostly used for making Bai Hao (Oriental or Eastern Beauty) oolongs or black teas, which requires much more oxidization.

Bao Chong tea has a light, golden-green color, with a fragrant scent and lingering, sweet aftertaste. The umami note can be felt at the back of the tongue, and gives a soft feeling, almost like a warm, cotton blanket, which the Chinese call "mian". This word can also be used to describe that "walking on clouds" feeling. "Gang", is another word that best describes the tea note that is prevalent in oolongs - it goes in astringent, then rounds out sweet. Due to the delicate nature of this tea, the type of water used is very important. We suggest fresh spring water, at a temperature just below the boil.
"In Pursuit of Tea is your guide to the finest hand-crafted tea from around the world."

We explore remote regions in search of extraordinary teas, which we enjoy with tea drinkers and friends who share our passion." In Pursuit of Tea

Ginseng Aged Oolong (2 oz)

An aged Taiwanese oolong, with a velvety balance of thick, sweet, and piney notes.
High Mountain Shan Lin Xi Roasted (2 oz)

In Pursuit of Tea High Mountain Oolongs
A general term that denotes excellence
"Gao Shan cha" translates into 'high mountain tea', a term often used by the Taiwanese to describe a premium oolong that is grown at high elevation. People in the west are sometimes confused by the vagueness of this category, so we wanted to explain in more detail as to what makes a "high mountain" tea.
Famous Mountains
San Lin Shi is a beautiful mountain in Taiwan that is renowned for its excellent oolongs. Narrow roads wind up to 2000m, revealing magnificent views of lush tea fields hugging the steep slopes. The Tung Ting varietal is grown here, which was originally brought over by the scholar Lin Fong Chi, who returned from his studies in Fujian at the end of the 18th century. He brought back 36 tea plants, all from the Wuyi, Fujian area, and 12 were successfully cultivated. Now Taiwan has several hybrids and over forty different types of oolongs, along with red teas.

Another mountain famous for growing high mountain tea is Ali Shan. This mountain is also very popular as a scenic tourist destination, which actually lowers its cache in some tea circles.

Both our Twelve Trees & High Mountain are grown in the
San Lin Shi area.
Elevation matters
At higher elevations, the climate change is much more dramatic. With colder nights and hotter days, the greater temperature changes occur in a much shorter time frame, with morning dew giving way to blinding sun often within minutes. These factors give high mountain tea leaves a unique characteristic that is somewhat tougher, thicker, almost leathery. When met with the hands of masters, the results are richer, deeper flavor characteristics that cannot be replicated from average tea leaves.

High mountain oolongs usually get three pickings - in spring, summer and winter. Spring crops are usually more fragrant, and the yields are higher, whereas winter crops produce less, yet are more rich in flavor.

Tea pickers usually pick one month straight per season. Taiwan has recently been experiencing a labor shortage at tea farms, so during the peak season many family members are brought back from the cities to help out, along with bringing in workers from Indonesia, or elsewhere.
The best way to prepare high mountain tea
Use a gaiwan or yixing tea pot to prepare these teas gong-fu style. The irregular ball shaped leaves are tightly rolled and benefit from a quick rinse to begin the steeping process. The complexity of oolongs are best tasted through several short infusions.

For more information on gong fu style tea brewing, click here...
Nantou Four Seasons Oolong | In Pursuit of Tea
Nantou Four Seasons (4 oz)

Nantou Oolong Si Ji Chun (Four Seasons)

From Harvesting to Final Roast

Four Seasons Oolong is a relatively new varietal developed during the 1980's in the Nantou region of Taiwan. Grown at an elevation of 800m, the leaves are hand picked from early spring to late fall, and produces four to six flushes per year.

Picking usually involves one bud, one young leaf and two mature leaves. Picking starts early in the morning, and goes throughout the day. The teas are initially left to sun dry for a few hours. This is usually done indoors or outside (if the weather conditions are favorable). The leaves are then transferred to round bamboo trays to dry on racks for several more hours indoors, so the leaves can slowly oxidize before the farmers "kill the green". This is done by putting the leaves in a large tumbling dryer oven, which halts the oxidization process. Harvesting the leaves to processing it to the "mao cha" stage usually takes up to 24 hours. After that point, the final roasting begins. Our Nantou Oolong is approximately 30% oxidized, and roasted for four hours.

The leaves then undergo a process of repeated rolling, kneading and shaping. Later, the larger twigs and coarse leaves are separated from the quality rolled leaves. This is a labor intensive sorting process that requires a sharp eye and a quick hand! Hand sorting is mostl
y done by the women, and during the peak spring season one can see family members young and old busily sorting and grading over flat trays.

Our Nantou Oolong is golden in color, with an intensely floral aroma. Coating the throat with a smooth and silky taste, this light and fragrant green oolong is best enjoyed using higher-temperature water with a relatively short steeping time. We've found that it accompanies light foods and desserts exceptionally well; feel free to experiment!

Spring Fortune (2 oz)

An exquisite oolong: a rich aroma of pineapple and cherry yields a sweet, clear flavor. Limited lot.
Tasting Cup Set

Tea Judging Tray

Tung Ting (2 oz)

Tung Ting - Twelve Trees Oolong

Few Taiwanese teas command the same degree of respect around the world as Tung Ting (Twelve Trees) oolongs.

Over its century-long history, Dongding Oolong has developed into one of Taiwan's two signature teas. These two teas are locally known as Jie Mei Cha (Sister Teas). The second sister is Wenshan Baochong from northern Taiwan. Tung Ting Mountain is located in the center of the largest tea producing region in Taiwan, Nantou County. Responsible for over 40 percent of the island's tea production, Nantou's mountainous terrain and temperate climate is perfectly suited for oolongs.

According to local folklore, the origin of Dongding oolong began around 1855. A villager named Lin Fong Tse went to the renowned Wu Yi Mountains in Fujian Province, China, and came back with 36 tea trees of the ching-shing varietal. He gave 12 of these trees as a gift to a tea farmer friend, Lin San Yen, who had helped finance his trip. These 12 trees were subsequently planted along the mountain roads surrounding the beautiful Chi-Ling Lake near the town of Luku and it is said all modern day Dongdings are decedents of these 12 trees.

In honor of Lin Fong Tse and Lin San Yen, we have named our tea Twelve Trees Oolong. Our farmer Mr Wu has also chosen to put a unique twist by using the San Lin Xi leaf varietal which is normally used to make the other famous tea; the High Mountain Oolong. The slightly higher elevation means the leaves are slightly thicker, more leathery when wet. It also has a higher moisture content. The tea is completely handcrafted., from picking the one bud and two leaves to the kneading and firing process. After the initial oxidization and firing, the farmer spends an average of four days shaping and finishing the leaves. The process includes tsai-rou (repeat rolling/kneading), tsai-pei (repeat firing), and ding-shing (shaping). Dongding normally has an oxidation level of about 30% (but I have requested a slightly higher level), which is categorized as a light, medium-oxidized tea.

As you enjoy Twelve Trees, take note of the following:

The dry leaves: A rich dark green, locally described as wa-ching (toad green). Refreshing brown sugary scent.

The steeped leaves: An intense nutty and caramel aroma.

The liquor: Bright golden yellow, with crisp, complex full-bodied flavors -- again nutty and sweet.

The finish: Smooth, no astringency with lingering chestnut notes.

The empty cup, after enjoying the tea: The most amazing sweetness you've ever smelled from an empty cup! molasses syrup? sugar cane?

This tea is best enjoyed with the Gong Fu method of preparation.

White Flower Gaiwan

A floral decorated white gaiwan made of fine porcelain, perfect for one person or gongfu cha service.
White Gaiwan (4 oz)

A  simple white gaiwan made of fine porcelain, perfect for one person or gongfu cha service.
Wood Dragon Oolong | In Pursuit of Tea
Wood Dragon (4 oz)

Made from the stems of a Tawainese oolong tea, this is a popular choice as it is low in caffeine but with the warm roasted, rich flavor associated with oolongs.
Wooden Matcha Tray