Over 400 hundred years ago, the first wild tea trees were discovered in Taiwan – called Oolong tea which mean, in Chinese, “Black Dragon”. According to history records, Fujian province of China is the origin location of Oolong tea. For centuries, it has been deeply enjoyed by Chinese tea connoisseurs. According to tea critics, Oolong is also one of the most famous teas in the world.
In Chiang Rai, “Oolong” brings a good reputation to Doi Mae Salong. Let’s find out about the its history in the article below which is taken from Asia Rising website.
Taiwan has one of the best climates in the world for growing tea. Tea thrives in the mountainous topography of Taiwan. On these mountains, tea trees receive much sunlight and just the right amount of rain to produce the best tasting teas in the East. Bau Jong tea, Oolong and black teas are some of the best known teas from that region. Taiwan is also famous for its green teas.
The history of these teas dates back about three centuries when wild growing tea trees were found in the Wuyi Mountains of Taiwan. About one hundred years later, the Taiwanese people decided to take these wild growing tea trees to transplant and grow them commercially in the northern regions of Taiwan.
During the late eighteenth and dearly nineteenth centuries, tree planting began in Northern Taiwan to succeed into the tea growing business it is today. Tea tree seeds were brought to Taiwan for the purpose of planting them and growing trees in Northern Taiwan. Because the climate and geographical location is optimal for tea production, the trees grew very well and produced some of the finest teas known.
During the mid-eighteen hundreds, Oolong trees were taken from the province of Fuji in China and removed to DongDing in Taiwan by Linfengchi. When he arrived in DongDing, Linfengchi set to work to replant the trees from the Wuyi Mountains in Fuji and eventually produced the famous Dong Ding Oolong. This is how the DongDing Oolong history began. The tea became known world-wide after a British company, Jardine Mantheson & Co. bought Oolong in an unfinished state a few years after Linfengchi had planted the trees.
It was a difficult process to finish the tea they have bought in a semi-finished state. The tea was taken to China to go through the finishing steps there. To save time and expenses of the transport to China and then the return of the tea to Taiwan, the Englishman John Dodd decided to hire a Chinese team of expert tea masters in the year 1868 and bring them to Taipei. There they could process the tea locally instead of China.
One year later, Dodd began his tea exporting business with America. His brand of tea, the Formosa Oolong became extremely sought-after when his shipment of 127 tons of tea arrived in America. After the tea\’s great welcome in the Americas, Dodd focused his shipping routes toward Europe and other countries around the globe.
Despite the warm reception of Oolongs, it was not yet a lucrative business. This was mainly due to the novelty of tea in general. Some people were not used to the difference in taste between coffee or chocolate and tea.
The event of a new tea that had its origin in Oolong but was manipulated to have a more flowery aroma, the Bau Jong tea (Bau Jhong tea) changed the demand for tea in America and Europe and export became more profitable. Bau Jong tea derived its milder flavor from being much less oxidized than the traditional Oolongs. By not processing the tea into very fine pieces, leaves were a bit larger and less oxidized.
In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, two brothers, Zhangnaimiao and Zhangnaigan, tooktie guan yin to Muzha Zhanghu from their original place in the province of Anxi. In Muzha Zhanghu they planted the Tie Guan Yin where it grew and made a name in tea.
Taiwan exports some of the world’s best tasting and aromatic teas. To learn more about these fascinating and delectable teas you can read about Taiwan’s Top Ten Famous Teas in our select TeaVivre story.
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