Taiwanese oolong tea is known as the 'champagne of tea'. But what's the story behind this high quality tea? Originating from China and now enjoyed across the globe, Taiwanese oolong tea has an interesting and rich history. Read on to learn about the origins of oolong tea and how it got to Taiwan and the rest of the world.
Origin of Oolong Tea
There are various theories on the origin of oolong tea, but the most popular one is the ‘tribute tea’ theory, which dates back to China’s Tang Dynasty (618-907). During this time, oolong tea was made in Fujian province and offered as a tribute to the royal court. Only the nation's finest tea was selected for the royal court. Over time, with the increase of travel and trade, oolong tea became very popular for its reputation and became widespread.
Oolong Tea Arrives in Taiwan
In 1796, Fujian tea merchants took the seeds of the tea plant camellia sinensis to Taiwan and cultivated them. The tea plant flourished in Taiwan where the climate and terrain are ideal for the growth of tea. During the occupation of Taiwan, foreign merchants were keen on exporting Taiwanese tea so they began to develop and strengthen Taiwan’s tea manufacturing process. Learn more about Taiwan’s tea history.
Global Export of Taiwanese Oolong Tea
In 1869, Taiwanese oolong tea was exported to the US for the first time. It was a huge success and oolong tea quickly became so popular that Taiwanese oolong was exported to Europe and the rest of the world. However, in the 1980s, Taiwan’s tea culture became more focused on the art of tea and became selective about quality. As a result, high quality tea started being kept for local consumption rather than export. This is why it's rare to find high quality Taiwanese oolong tea.
Taiwanese Oolong Today
Today, Taiwanese oolong tea accounts for 20% of the world’s oolong. True to its origin as the finest tea for the royal court, Taiwanese oolong tea is considered the ‘champagne of tea’. It is loved for its green-tea style, which is considerably lighter and smoother than oolong tea from China. Learn more about the difference between Taiwanese and Chinese oolong tea.
From 'tribute tea' to the 'champagne of tea', Taiwanese oolong tea has had a rich history and has been with Taiwan through many changes. But one thing has remained constant - its quality and reputation as the finest tea.