Taiwan Oolong Tea Varieties
(Formosa Wulong Tea)
An Overview

Taiwan oolong tea is the youngest of Chinese oolong tea, but it has developed to be its most sophisticated.



Chinese oolong tea can be classified into four regions:

  • Northern Fujian (e.g. Wuyi Rock tea)

  • Southern Fujian (e.g. Anxi Tieguanyin tea)

  • Guangdong (e.g. Phoenix Dancong tea)

  • Taiwan

Taiwan oolong tea has a relatively short history. While China's oolong tea history can be traced back to 16th century, Taiwan didn't get started until 19th century.

Initially, they took most of their plants and processing techniques from the Fujian province.

Over time, they came to develop their own style, which now covers the widest spectrum of tastes and flavors of oolong tea.

I list below the 5 most important types of Taiwan oolong tea, in ascending order of oxidation.

Name Oxidation Withering Shape Comments
Baozhong Tea Light Light Long Nearest to green tea
Dongding Tea (Tungting) Medium Medium Half-Ball Most famous Formosa tea
Gaoshan Tea (High Mountain) Medium Medium Half-Ball Grown in high altitude
Tieguanyin Tea (Iron Goddess) Medium Medium Ball Most popular type of oolong
Champagne Oolong Heavy Heavy Long Nearest to Red or Black tea


Baozhong Tea

Also known as Qing Cha or Pouchong, it is characterized by low oxidation (8% to 18%), low withering (8% to 12%) and light rolling. It is the most green of oolong tea.

It was originally processed like the Wuyi Rock tea and is long and curly.

taiwan oolong teaIt is classified according to where it is grown. There are 3 varieties:

  • Wenshan

  • Nangang

  • Lanyang

Wenshan Baozhong tea is the single largest tea produced in Taiwan.

Dongding Tea

Perhaps the most famous of Taiwan oolong tea, it is also known as Tung Ting oolong tea.

It grows in Dongding Mountain (Frozen Peak) at 600 to 1,200 meters above sea level.

It is characterized by medium oxidation (15% to 25%), medium withering and medium rolling. It is half ball-shaped.

Authentic Dongding tea comes from a part of the Mountain called

Dongding Taidi. Properly speaking, only tea produced here can be called Dongding tea.

Tea grown outside the Taidi at lower altitude is called Dongjiao Cha (Frozen Leg Tea).

Gaoshan Tea

taiwan oolong tea

Like Dongding tea, Gaoshan tea too is characterized by medium oxidation, medium withering, medium rolling, and semi ball-shape.

Gaoshan means high mountain. Gaoshan tea grows at high altitude of 1,000 meters. The Gaoshan varieties consist of

  • Meishan

  • Alishan

  • Yushan

  • Wushe

  • Lishan

Of which, Alishan tea is the priciest and most highly regarded.

Tieguanyin Tea

In Taiwan, Tieguanyin tea includes the entire family of ball-shaped oolong tea.

It is characterized by medium oxidation, medium withering and heavy rolling.

The two most well known varieties are

  • Mu Zha (Wooden Gate)

  • Shi Men (Stone Door)

The Mu Zha variety is the most highly regarded.

Champagne Oolong Tea

The most exotic of oolong tea, Champagne Oolong is made of young tea shoots (one-bud-and-two-leaves) rather than the more matured leaves that other oolong teas typically use.

It is characterized by heavy oxidation (50% to 70%) and heavy withering (13% to 25%).

It is the closest thing oolong tea has to Chinese red tea.

It has many names:

  • taiwan oolong teaChampagne Oolong Tea (Xiangbing)

It is customary to add a couple of drops of alcohol (champagne or Bailandi) to enhance its flavor.

  • White Hair Oolong Tea (Baihao)

The tea is made of very young leaves, which are covered with white hairs.

  • Puff Tea (Pengfeng)

The tea is very expensive. People drinking it are thought to be a show-off.

  • Oriental Beauty (Dongfang Meiren)

According to a legend, Queen Elizabeth of England once remarked that the brightly colored tea liquor resembled a beautiful woman.

Since the tea comes from the East, it is called Oriental Beauty.

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References

Zheng Lisheng (2006). Wulong Cha Jianshang. Zhongguo Qinggongye Chubanshe.

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