Oolong Tea Production In The Past?

Does anyone know how common it was for farmers growing Oolong tea from 1800-1900 to do all the processing on their farms "in house" so to speak. I am aware that many produced crude tea that was then sent to the refineries for processing, but did many do the whole job themselves?


Hey, I am not a tea historian so I can't say for sure. But as far as I can see, premium tea making technologies have not changed much in the last 100 years, so I wouldn't be surprised if the larger farms are able to do all the processing in house.

What is your thought?

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May 26, 2008
my thoughts
by: Chris

Hi, thanks for the super fast reply (and to my other question too!). Well, my research has led me to believe that in the olden days it was possible for farmers to produce more than just crude tea at their farms.

However, I think it was more often than not, simply more convenient for the farmer to send the crude tea to a processor for refining.

As far as I can tell, the main benefit in doing this was to pay for the expertise of the tea masters at the refinery who could control the complex and delicate operations of the oxidation process better and allow farmers to attend to other tasks

I've read that a lot of specialist teas such as some of the rarer hand made teas of the wuyi Oolong family are all made on site in the mountains by the farmers themselves. Can you confirm this?

What are your views?

May 27, 2008
Wuyi Mountain Tea
by: Julian


I can confirm that real Wuyi tea (i.e. those harvested in the middle of the mountain, not those surrounding it as most shops sell these days) are made in the Mountain, then carried downhill using bamboo baskets, even up to today.

I totally agree with your observation that group manufacturing is more due to specialism and economy of scale rather than the small farmers lacking the technologies.

Are you researching on tea history?

May 27, 2008
Tea research
by: Chris

Hi Julian,

Yes, you guessed it! I'm researching tea production process in Taiwan during the 1800-1900 and how it developed over this time.

As you can probably also guess, I am also a tea aficionado ;)

I recently got back from a trip to Taiwan, and brought home with me (amongst others) some delicious Alishan high mountain tea.

As soon as I am through with my tea, I'll take a look at your shop with a view to a possible order, as you seem to be very knowledgeable and enthusiastic/passionate about tea.

I've learnt a lot from your web site, many thanks.

May 27, 2008
Taiwan Oolong Teas
by: Julian


With the Taiwanese tea over the same period the transformation was incredible. That little island literally transforms itself from a backwater Chinese province to the centre of innovation and excellence of oolong tea.

The sheer varieties of oolong teas that emerge from Taiwan is staggering. Besides the usual Baozhong (Qingcha) and the local varieties of Tieguanyin, they also developed their own styles in semi-rolled teas (Dongding), Gaoshan teas and Oriental Beauty.

Wow, fascinating topic. Let me know how it goes. I am glad the site could offer some help.

Here is the link if you have not already come across it ...

Taiwan Oolong Tea


May 27, 2008
Oolong tea
by: Chris

Thanks for your encouraging remarks Julian. I too, find it a fascinating topic. I agree wholeheartedly with the statements you made.

I had bookmarked your section on Taiwan tea, but had not read it until now.

I do have one last question if I may be so bold. I sincerely apologise for monopolising your time - I could talk about tea all day...

I have read that tea in the Tamsui region in the North west of Taiwan was where the majority of tea for the commercial market started to be cultivated in around 1860's. However, I haven't found out what varieties of Taiwan Oolong tea were grown there. Is there any tea grown in Tamsui today? Perhaps it is the same as was grown back then...

Perhaps you know, or one of your website users can offer an opinion?

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