Happy August to you, my tea friends, and welcome to Oolong month here at Art and Tea! For the 4 Saturdays in August, I will be exploring various Oolong teas from both China and Taiwan.
As do black, green and white teas, Oolong tea leaf comes from various native subspecies of the Camellia Sinensis plant. The word Oolong, or Wulong, translates to dark or black dragon. Some say this is because the twist given to an Oolong leaf during processing resembles the silhouette of a dragon.
Traditionally made from larger tea leaves plucked as a bud with a set of up to 3 leaves, Oolongs are the most complicated tea to manufacture. This is because of the greater number of processing steps over a longer period of time from plant to cup. There is a great advantage to this longer processing time, however, as it gives opportunity for more personal interpretation, or artistry, when creating the tea.
Unlike fully oxidized black teas or unoxidized green teas, Oolong teas are semi-oxidized. Some say that Oolongs are a cross between a black tea and a green tea but this is not the case at all. They are their own unique category of tea.
It’s amazing how such a dark leaf can yield such a light golden liquor. As I lifted the infuser basket from my glass teapot, a honeyed fruit fragrance filled my senses. The flavor is quite sweet with a distinctive woodsy character. Notes of apricot and a hint of chestnuts round out the flavor.
As I sip from my cup of Oolong tea, a cool breeze dances through my windows, beckoning my outside for a long meditative walk.
Join me next week as I continue my explorations with a cup of Oolong tea from Taiwan (Formosa)…
“The first cup caresses my dry lips and throat,
The second shatters the walls of my lonely sadness,
The third searches the dry rivulets of my soul to find the stories of five thousand scrolls.
With the fourth the pain of past injustice vanishes through my pores.
The fifth purifies my flesh and bones.
With the sixth I am in touch with the immortals.
The seventh gives such pleasure I can hardly bear.
The fresh wind blows through my wings
As I make my way to Penglai.”
~Lu Tang, poet (Tang Dynasty)