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Taiwanese tea

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Taiwanese tea

The main tea areas of Taiwan

Taiwan is famous for its tea which are of three main types: oolong tea, black tea and green tea. The earliest record of tea trees found in Taiwan can be traced back to 1717 in Shui Sha Lian (水沙連), present-day Yuchih and Puli, Nantou County.[1] Some of the teas retain the island's former name, Formosa.

Oolongs grown in Taiwan account for about 20% of world production.[2]


According to Lien Hen (連橫; Taiwanese historian 連橫 (人名)), in the late 18th century, Ke Chao (柯朝) brought some tea trees from Fujian into Taiwan and planted them in Jie Yu Keng (櫛魚坑), currently known as Ruifang District, New Taipei City. However, transaction records indicated that tea business in Muzha (木柵, Taipei 臺北市) area started as early as late 18th century. Thus we can believe that tea has been merchandised in Taiwan for more than two centuries. In 1855, Lin Feng Chi (林鳳池) brought the Cing Shin Oolong(青心烏龍) plants from Wuyi Mountain (Fujien Province)(武夷山,福建) into Taiwan and planted in Dongding Village (Lugu, Nantou County, Taiwan)(凍頂鄉,南投,台灣). This is said to be the origin of Dongding Oolong Dong Ding tea from Taiwan.

Taiwan tea government certification mark

After the Treaties of Tianjin were ratified in 1860 and the port of Danshui was opened for trade, British entrepreneur John Dodd began working with tea merchants and farmers to promote Taiwan tea, slowly developing it as an export item. Before long, tea ranked first among Taiwan’s top-three exports, ahead of sugar and camphor. The earliest teas exported during the Qing dynasty were oolong and baozhong tea, which began to be sold abroad in 1865 and 1881, respectively.[3]

A tea garden in Ruisui, Hualien

In 1867, Dodd started a tea company in Wanhua, Taipei Taipei city(萬華,台北市), and started to sell Taiwanese oolong tea to the world under the name "Formosa Oolong". Aware of British plans to develop a tea industry in India, he successfully sought profit in developing an alternative tea product on the island.[4] Pouchong oolong was considered to be more flowery than Baihao Oolong, Pouchong was exported under the name "Formosa Pouching". In fact, Dongding Oolong (凍頂烏龍茶), White Tip Oolong (白毫烏龍茶) and Baochong Oolong(包種烏龍茶), Alpine or High Mountain Oolong, are all categorized as Oolong tea, which contributes a large part of Taiwan tea industry. Oolong tea was practically synonymous with Taiwanese tea in the late 19th century, and competitors in Ceylon sought a US market advantage by publishing materials emphasizing the use of human foot trampling during its production.[5] This was countered by the introduction of mechanical processing publicized at the St. Louis Exhibition.[5]

Mainland China was subject to trade embargos during the 1950s and 1960s, and during this time Taiwanese tea growers and marketers focused on existing, well-known varieties.[6] After the mainland's products became more widely available and the market for teas became more competitive, the Taiwanese tea industry successfully changed its emphasis to producing specialty versions, especially of Oolongs.[6] A government Tea Inspection Office grades teas into 18 categories ranging from Standard to Choice.[7] 17,384 tonnes of tea were produced in 2008.[2]

The government-supported Tea Research and Extension Station, established to promote Taiwanese tea in 1903, conducts research and experimentation.[8]

Primary Tea Processing (no roasting, scenting, or spicing)


Tea areas

Major tea growing areas:

  • Northern Taiwan: Includes Hsindian, Pinglin, Mucha, Shenkeng, Shidian, Sanhsia, Nangang, and Yilan.
  • Mid-central Area: Includes Miaoli, and Hsinchu.
  • Eastern Taiwan: Includes Taitung, and Hualian.
  • South-central Taiwan: Includes Nantou, Pingtung, Chiayi, Taichung, and Yunlin.
  • High Mountain Regions: Includes Alishan, Yu Shan, Hsueh Shan, and Taitung mountain ranges.

Oolong Teas

As Taiwan is lucky to have great environment for tea growing, and with the developing of tea technology, Taiwan has produced many top quality teas, all can be called as “Formosa Tea”. The best known ones including "Formosa Dongding oolong", "Formosa Alishan Oolong", "Formosa Wenshan Pouchong","Formosa Oriental Beauty", "Formosa Shanlinxi Oolong", "Formosa Jade Oolong" and more. According to the 1997 version of the Joy of Cooking, Taiwanese oolongs are considered the finest by some tea connoisseurs.[9] The US cooks Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins describe three Taiwanese oolongs as the "Champagne of tea".[10] Their special quality may be due to unique growing conditions.[7]

Oolong is harvested five times per year in Taiwan, between April and December.[7] The July and August crops generally receive the highest grades.[7]

Dongding Tea

This tea, most notably grown in the mountains of Nantou County, was brought to Taiwan during the 19th century from the mainland's Wuyi Mountains.[11] Its special qualities have been attributed to an almost continuous fog.[11] Teas harvested in the spring are entered in a competition and the winners are quickly bespoken at premium prices, fetching US $2,000 for a 600-gram package during the 1990s.[11] It undergoes less fermentation than most oolongs.[2] A 40-minute roasting over charcoal contributes to its flavor, which also has "nutty, caramel, and chestnut" elements.[12][13]

Pouchong (or Baozhong) Tea

Pouchong oolong, also called light oolong, is a lightly fermented tea, twist shape, with floral notes, and usually not roasted, somewhere between green tea and what is usually considered Oolong tea (Chinese: 烏龍; pinyin: Wulong, 'Black Dragon'), though often classified with the latter due to its lack of the sharper green tea flavours. 'Pouchong' refers to its paper wrapping.[14]

Oriental Beauty (Dongfang Meiren)Tea

White Tip Oolong is very fruity in taste and got the name "[12]

Iron Goddess (Tie Guanyin) Tea

This variety originated on the mainland, and is associated with a legend in which a tea grower found a unique tea plant near an iron statue of Kuan Yin.[15] Taiwan Mucha Iron Goddess tea (木柵鐵觀音), also known as Tie Guanyin, is a traditional oolong. It is roasted and has a stronger taste and a roast nutty character, the tea liquid is reddish-brown. Different from the Anxi Iron Goddess, which is not roasted and green in character.

High Mountain (Gao Shan) Teas

Also called Alpine oolong, grown in altitudes of 1,000 meters or above.

Lishan(梨山) oolong

Grown at altitudes above 2,200 meters, was the costliest Taiwanese tea during the 2000s, commanding prices of over $200 US dollars per 600 grams.[12]

Dayuling (大禹嶺) oolong

Grown at altitudes above 2,500 meters. Some people name it as The King of Taiwan High Mountain Tea. Because the quantity is limited due to the geographical condition, the prices per 500  grams is often at the range of $200 US dollars up to $500. Because of its popularity, there are unscrupulous businessmen selling fake/unqualified tea using Dayuling's brand name.

Ali Mountain (阿里山), or other high mountains.

This is the most widely known general name for lightly oxidized oolong tea, much of it picked in winter and therefore termed “Winter tea”. Among the oolongs grown on Ali Mountain, tea merchants tend to stress the special qualities of Gold Lily ( 金萱: Chin-Hsuan, or Jin Xuan) tea variety, which is the name of a cultivar developed in Taiwan in the 1980s. The oolong tea made with this cultivar has a particular milky flavor.

Osmanthus Oolong

An oolong scented with osmanthus flowers, the tea is also packaged with some flowers added after the scenting process. This tea is roasted, with floral and warming notes.

Black tea

Black Jade Taiwan Tea TTES #18 is a cultivar developed by the Taiwan Tea Research and Experiment Station during the 1990s.[16] The now popular tea is a hybrid of Camellia sinensis v. assamica and a native variety (Camellia sinensis forma formosensis), and is said to have notes of cinnamon and mint.[16]

Green tea

Green tea, such as Dragon Well (Longjing) and Green Spiral (Biluochun), are grown in Taipei County’s Sanhsia area.

Bubble tea

Bubble tea originated in Taiwan during the 1980s and is now popular worldwide.[17]

See also


  1. ^ Mark Anton Allee (1994), "Tea", Law and local society in late imperial China: northern Taiwan in the nineteenth century, Stanford University Press, pp. 97 et seq,  
  2. ^ a b c "Agriculture - sectors". Government of Taiwan. Retrieved 2011-03-19. 
  3. ^ "The Art of Tea". Retrieved March 17, 2011. 
  4. ^ Michael Harney (7 October 2008). The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea. Penguin. p. 68.  
  5. ^ a b Marcus Bourne Huish (1903). Fifty years of new Japan (Kiakoku gojūnen shi). Smith, Elder, & Co. p. 542. Retrieved 16 March 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Michael Harney (7 October 2008). The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea. Penguin. pp. 57–58.  
  7. ^ a b c d Joel Schapira; David Schapira; Karl Schapira (15 March 1996). The book of coffee & tea: a guide to the appreciation of fine coffees, teas, and herbal beverages. Macmillan. pp. 212–213.  
  8. ^ "Tea Research and Extension Station". Tea Research and Extension Station. Retrieved 2011-03-17. 
  9. ^ Irma von Starkloff Rombauer; Marion Rombauer Becker; Ethan Becker; Maria Guarnaschelli (5 November 1997). Joy of cooking. Simon and Schuster. p. 31.  
  10. ^ Julee Rosso; Sheila Lukins; Michael McLaughlin (5 March 2007). Silver Palate Cookbook 25th Anniversary Edition. Workman Publishing. p. 406.  
  11. ^ a b c "Lost in the Fog:Touring Tungting Oolong Country".  
  12. ^ a b c d e Phil Macdonald (20 November 2007). Taiwan. National Geographic Books. p. 97.  
  13. ^ Mary Lou Heiss; Robert J. Heiss (30 March 2010). The Tea Enthusiast's Handbook: A Guide to the World's Best Teas. Random House Digital, Inc. p. 103.  
  14. ^ Kit Boey Chow; Ione Kramer (September 1990). All the tea in China. China Books. p. 150.  
  15. ^ Laura C. Martin (10 April 2007). Tea: the drink that changed the world. Tuttle Publishing. pp. 219–220.  
  16. ^ a b "Morphological Comparisons of Taiwan Native Wild Tea Plant (Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze forma formosensis Kitamura) and Two Closely Related Taxa Using Numerical Methods".  
  17. ^ Janet A. Flammang (20 October 2009). The taste for civilization: food, politics, and civil society. University of Illinois Press. p. 220.  

External links

  • 台北市茶商業同業公會
  • 預見,行銷全球的未來!- 以Formosa 之名行銷農產品於世界,農訓雜誌,2006,23(7): 22-25
  • Taiwan
  • Taiwanese Oolong Tea
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