Friday, November 2, 2012

Oolong TEA

Oolong Tea
There are four major categories in the different growing and processing regions.
Northern Fujian Province, China:  Wu Yi Tea (also called Cliff Tea or Rock Tea)
Southern Fujian Province, China: Tie Guan Yin (also called Chinese Oolong, Iron Buddha, Buddha of Mercy, Gun Yam)
Guangdong Province, China:  Phoenix Oolong (also called Dan Chong Tea)
Taiwan: Tung Ting, High Mountain, Alishan, Baojung  
Production of Oolong Tea
Oolong Tea has 7 processing steps: 
Picked leaves are spread out (inside and/or outside in the sun) to soften the cell walls of leaves. As the moist evaporates, the leaves start the natural enzymatic fermentation. This also reduces the grassy taste of tea leaves.
Tossing/Bruising (Turning Over)
Known as "Shaking" in Chinese, because in the old days, the leaves were simply shaken in a wicker basket. Today, this step is done with the aid of machines to further break down the leaves by mechanical means. This improves oxidation and mixes chemical elements from the stems with the leaves, removing bitterness and balancing the flavour of the tea.

Oxidization (Partial and Full)
The natural process of fermentation by allowing the leaves to rest after the Withering or Tossing/Bruising (Turning Over) steps continues. The time allowed determines the amount of fermentation for the tea being made. At this point, the leaves turn to a darker green or even a red color. This is where the tea begins to develop its grassy, flowery or fruity taste characteristics.

“Kill-Green” (also known as Fixing”)
This stops the natural fermentation and growing processes within the leaves without damaging them.  Steaming the leaves, hand pressing in a hot pan and baking techniques are used.

Leaves are passed through hot and/or cold rollers to slightly break down the leaves. This establishes the shape of the leaves and intensifies the tea flavor.

The fermentation stops to prevent mold growth. It removes any grassy leaf taste and develops the tea's aroma.  Sun drying, pan heating and hot air methods are used.

Various methods of roasting in a pan or a basket with charcoal or electric heat are used to give a smoky flavor or a fruity characteristic. 

o   Storing Oolong Tea
Oolong Tea is best kept in a cool, dry place in an airtight container or even in a refrigerator. We recommend refrigeration which actually improves the taste of the tea, as well as making it last much longer. However, if refrigerated storage is used, the tea should be kept refrigerated at all times as successive warming and cooling will degrade the tea. 

Introducing Ali Shan Oolong Tea

Ali Shan Oolong
o       Ali Shan High Mountain Oolong is one of the best High Mountain Oolongs in the world. Among It is famous for its incredible sweet aroma and smooth flavor. It is grown on Ahli (Ali) Mountain in Taiwan’s Jiayi (Chiayi) County. The tea is planted between 1,000 and 2,300 meters above sea level. This part of the mountain is humid with low temperatures and plenty of fog, perfect for creating Ali Shan High Mountain Oolong. The brewed tea has a pale yellow color with a light orchid aroma with a slightly sweet, yet complex flavor which is said to resemble fruits and flowers. It is perfect for multiple infusions.

Health Benefits of Ali Shan Oolong Tea
The antioxidant, Polyphenol, protects cells and body chemicals against damage caused by free radicals that contribute to tissue damage in the body. Hence, it can be a great anti-aging agent. It has a high source of Vitamin C, great for our skin. Our enzyme performance can be improved by its ability to break down fat and increase fat metabolism. Last but not least, it can relax the muscle in the bronchial tract and regulate our body temperature.  
How about the Caffeine content? Is it more or less than coffee? Well, it can be either one or the other. It all depends on the different methods of manufacturing and preparation for consumption. Nevertheless, to lessen the impact of the caffeine, please refer to the preparation of this tea.

How to Prepare
Use 1 teaspoon of tea per 8oz of water. Heat water to 195-200 degrees and steep tea for 3-4 minutes. 2oz of tea equals 25-30 teaspoons. Tea can be brewed multiple times.
Kong Fu Cha
To reduce the caffeine level of the tea, it is best done using the traditional Chinese method of tea-making known as Gong Fu Cha (Tea With Great Skill). This highly controlled method of tea-making is characterized by using small teapots and multiple brews with very short steeping times of just a few seconds. This intensifies the flavour of any tea.
In Gong Fu Cha, the first brew is for washing the leaves and is poured away, hence, not consumed. This also has the effect of washing away much of the caffeine which is highly soluble in water.

Agnes Chin
Loose Leaf TEA Writer
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