Although oolong tea may not immediately be thought of as blue in colour, in China the humble oolong is a drink commonly referred to as “blue tea”, thanks to its (often, not always) tinged-blue colour. Due to an oxidation process that leaves them anywhere between 10 – 70% oxidised, their flavours are much less delicate than green and white teas, and it is possible for them to give off a roasted note.
Da Hong Pao, or “Big Red Robe” as it is known in many western countries, is an extremely famous Wu Yi rock tea which is renowned for its rich flavours. The tea’s history goes back to the Ming Dynasty, where supposedly its leaves cured an emperor’s mother from serious illness. In recognition of its apparent healing powers, the emperor ordered that the bush from whence the leaves came to be clothed in big red robes, thus giving it its name. It also sometimes goes by “Scarlet Robe”, however this is less common.
The leaves are very twisted-looking and brown in colour, which is uncommon among many oolongs. Floral notes adorn its beautiful, rich flavours.
You may be wondering which type of tea is featured above; it is in fact a very famous tea known as Tieguanyin, or more commonly as Iron Goddess of Mercy. It is one of a number of teas not classified as white, black, green or puerh; instead, it is known as an oolong (wūlóng) or blue tea. The name “blue” comes not from the overarching colour of the leaves or liquor, but instead the very subtle shades of blue that many beautiful oolong tea loose leaves display.
Iron Goddess itself is a fragrant, half-fermented Taiwanese roasted tea. When properly steeped, it yields a lovely deep yellow liquor. However, it isn’t the only oolong out there; there’s quite a variety of oolong teas to satisfy your taste buds, many of them well-revered.
Some people who are unused to drinking tea will take to oolongs faster than greens and whites. This is due to an oolong tea’s oxidation level being between that of green and black tea; most oolongs retain many characteristics of green tea without being quite as bitter, and taste much more like black tea. However, this of course differs from oolong to oolong, and depends greatly on the fermentation level. Oolong teas have the greatest variation in oxidation of any tea, with the exception of puerh.
That’s all for now, I hope you’ve enjoyed this first post on Teapress. Oolongs are a personal favourite tea of mine, so I thought I’d kick this blog off with one. But, there’s plenty more tea where this came from! At our home domain, www.australianteamasters.com.au, you can read a whole lot more about tea. So if you’re interested, drop by! We’d love to have you.