Today I realized that I have not yet written a blog post about Wulong Tea (烏龍茶, or wulong cha in Chinese). For this reason I felt inspired to drink a spring harvest wulong tea from Taiwan, and write this blog post.
Green teas are as close to no oxidation as one can get while picking and processing tea. Red teas on the other hand (black teas in English), are as close to full oxidation as one can get. However, wulong tea is a partially oxidized kind of tea. This oxidation can range from approximately 10-15% – 80% oxidation, so there is a great amount of variety and complexity that can be found while exploring these kinds of teas. This variety is due not only to oxidation, but also due to the complexity of processing the tea itself. Below I will summarize the main steps of processing a Taiwanese wulong tea. Some steps like shaking and withering may be repeated as necessary, depending on the degree of oxidation.
- Picking the tea leaves (採茶 or cai cha in Chinese)
- Sun drying / Outdoor withering (曬青 or shai qing in Chinese)
- Indoor withering (涼青 or liang qing in Chinese)
- Shaking (搖青 or yao qing in Chinese)
- Firing / Kill Green (殺青 or sha qing in Chinese)
- Rolling (揉捻 or rou nian in Chinese)
- Roasting (烘焙 or hong bei in Chinese) – different teas have different degrees of roasting
- Sorting (分級 or fen ji in Chinese)
This tea was enjoyable to drink. The dry leaves had an aroma that was clean, grassy, and somewhat nutty. The first few infusions of the tea had a flavor and fragrance that was very floral. This flavor & fragrance reminded me of blooming orchids and / or lilacs.
After the first few infusions, the tightly knotted tea leaves expanded open. At this point the floral fragrance of this tea faded, and the tea started releasing a stronger milky green flavor that was grassy and vegetal. Throughout the session the texture of the tea was very smooth, and it had a good lingering feeling that remained after taking a break from drinking. The image below shows a good example of the color of the brewed tea, as well as how much the leaves unfurled during brewing.
This tea was all around good to drink, and lasted for roughly 7 – 9 infusions. My favorite part of the session however was the first 2-3 infusions when the tea had very sparkling & aromatic qualities, as well as a nutty, floral, & complex flavor.
I feel as if this tea is a good example of a lightly oxidized and non roasted Taiwanese wulong. Because wulong tea is such a broad category, I plan on writing future blog posts about other wulong teas that have different kinds of oxidation, roasting, processing, etc.