China and Taiwan are the top producers of oolong tea. While oolong tea originates from China, Taiwanese oolong tea is world famous for its high quality flavor and aroma. When comparing oolong tea produced in China and Taiwan, Taiwanese oolong tea is considered to be light, smooth, and sweet, whereas Chinese oolong tea is rich, full-bodied, and earthy. Read on to find out what causes these differences in flavor and aroma.
Types of Oolong Tea
There are various types of oolong tea produced in China and Taiwan. They are categorized by their distinct production region and the methods used in processing the tea leaves. These differences determine the flavor, aroma, color, and caffeine content of the oolong tea.
Oolong Tea Production Regions
China’s most popular oolong teas, Iron Goddess of Mercy, Wuyi Oolong, and Milk Oolong, are grown in Fujian province, and Phoenix Tea is grown in Guangdong province. Taiwan’s signature high mountain oolong tea is grown in Nantou county.
Differences in Growing Environment
Production region is important because the soil and climate of the environment affect the flavor of the tea leaves. Taiwan’s high mountain oolong tea is grown at an altitude of 5,000 ft. Tea leaves grown at high elevations and cooler temperatures typically taste sweeter and lighter. At high altitudes, the thick clouds block out the sun rays, making the tea taste less bitter and more sweet. High mountain tea leaves also grow thicker and rich in pectin, which gives it a less astringent and smoother body.
Oolong Tea Processing Methods
Differences in processing refer to the method of twisting and roasting, and oxidation of the tea leaves. Oolong tea has a wide range of oxidation from 10-80% so depending on the level of oxidation, it can resemble green tea or black tea. The percentage of oxidation is critical because it determines the unique flavor, aroma, and color of the tea. Learn how high quality tea is made.
Differences in Taste and Aroma
How do the taste and aroma of Chinese oolong tea differ from Taiwanese oolong tea? Taiwan specializes in green-tea style oolong tea (such as baozhong tea), which means it has a low oxidation and light roast. This results in a floral fragrance, sweet taste, and light, smooth body. Taiwanese oolong tea is also less caffeinated. China specializes in black-tea style oolong tea, which tends to be dark in color, earthy in flavor, and full bodied. This is because Chinese oolong tea has a heavier roast and higher oxidation than Taiwanese oolong tea so they have a higher caffeine content.
The differences in Chinese and Taiwanese oolong tea are caused by the environment of the production region and the method of processing the tea leaves. Now that you know, you can appreciate the unique characteristics of Chinese and Taiwanese oolong tea.