A Guide to Appreciating Winter Harvest Oolong Tea from Taiwan – Taiwan Sourcing

We try to source our material as naturally as possible. If the tea has the term "Organic" in its title, then its a material with organic certificate; if it has "Natural Farming" in its title, then it is organically grown without a certificate; if it has "Wild" in its title, then it is wildly grown; if none of these terms appeared in the title, then it is a conventionally grown material which will have applied pesticides and herbicide in a safe quantity.

We still aren't quite finished with procuring our Spring tea line-up, however our Winter 2014 Collection definitely should not be missed!


The very first thing you might notice about our 2014 Winter collection, is that there are more Roasted Oolongs than Jade Oolongs.  This is because Roasted Oolong can be stored for aging if it's stored in a vacuum sealed pack or in an airtight container. The other reason is that, Roasted Oolong is better to drink it after the roasted taste (normally referred as to huo wei / 火味 ), has become smoother for our palates.  This freshly roasted "huo wei" taste will fade after a few months, so right now is a great time crack into a bag of roasted Winter 2014 Roasted Oolong!


You might be thinking: "Does that mean Jade Oolong cannot last beyond a single season?"  That is certainly not  the case thanks to modern packaging techniques, such as the deoxidizer we previously mentioned, and vacuum packing.  Jade Oolongs will easily keep fresh for one or even two years (depending on their processing style) while in their vacuum sealed package (or airtight container).  Although we do recommend drinking Jade Oolong and Green tea in a "Beaujolais" style - as fresh as you can, it does not necessarily mean that Jade Oolong will go stale quickly or easily .  That being said Jade Oolongs have a unique quality when enjoyed young and fresh.


So what's so special about Taiwan Winter Oolongs?


First of all, it's the quantity.  For example, in the higher elevation tea growing regions like Long Feng Xia which only grows Qing Xin Oolong varietal, can only be harvested three times in a year because of the cool temperatures.  During the winter-time these high mountain regions are especially cold, so the harvest yield in the winter is very low.


Therefore, the quantity available on the market is less than spring tea, which in some cases results in prices as high or higher than Spring harvest.


Another significant point that distinguishes winter tea from spring tea, and this is the most important one, is that Winter teas have a more obvious aroma than spring tea thanks to the extreme climate condition and shorter sunshine exposure.  But this benefit does not come without sacrifice, Polyphenols and amino acids, which are the two key points in creating the sweetness and the body for oolong tea, will decrease dramatically in winter.  As a result, winter tea will tend to have a stronger aroma but a slightly thinner body than spring tea.


 It is very cold here. Very!


Does that mean winter tea will always have a weaker or more unpleasant body? The answer is, it depends.  The level of body present depends not only on the day to day weather during the growing season, the weather at the time of picking, but most of all depends on the tea master's ability to process the fresh tea leaves into the finished product.  With proper care, technique, and probably some luck, a well-made Winter High Mountain Oolong can become the most prized and sought after Jade Oolong of the year.


The hill is actually pretty steep, every pick of the high mountain material deserves attention.


This is the reason why despite many excellent teas made available from the Spring 2015 harvest, we also wanted to include some stellar Winter harvest teas as well.  They are aromatic, taste great and each one has it's own unique character.  Let's enjoy them, shall we?


Picking teas on this kind of plantation is certainly not that easy, same thing goes with the photographer. 



Neil Miller:


This is very interesting information. The consensus among Western-facing tea sellers and tea drinkers seems to be that Taiwanese Winter oolongs generally are less floral and aromatic, but have a fuller body and longer finish than Spring Taiwanese oolongs. What you write here, however, suggests that the opposite is generally the case, that the Winter oolongs are more floral, and the Spring oolongs are richer tasting.

Is this the case specifically with high mountain or Jade oolongs, which you seem to be writing specifically about, or with Taiwanese oolongs more generally?

I just received my first order of Taiwanese Sourcing oolongs via Yunnan Sourcing US, and am very pleased with the Pinglin Organic “Emperor Jade” Baozhong Oolong Tea – Winter 2017, which I just brewed. I tend to find green teas including unroasted oolongs overly astringent, but this tea was very smooth, not overly floral, with a nice rich body and a lingering spiciness. It is my first Taiwainese Jade oolong. I enjoyed it very much.

Jul 24, 2018

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