Oolong have you got? The varieties of this tea are endless, really.
Year after year, more and more takes on oolong tea are released on the market. Also known as wulong or black dragon, this oxidised tea is considered a middle ground between green tea and black tea, with a flavour profile of its own.
One of the four true tea types, oolong tea is made from the leaves of Camellia Sinensis plant. The differences are in the production process, which can give you the likes of Red Robe, Da Hong Pao, Gaoshan, Si Ji Chun and many, many more.
Below are ten of the best oolong teas on the market right now.
Phoenix Tea — $17.00
Phoenix tea is produced in the Guangdong province of China. The leaves are harvested from one single bush of the tea plant, and each bush has a different flavour, meaning this brew differs from cup to cup.
Phoenix tea is noted for its floral and fruity aroma and flavour with a rich, full-bodied feel. Some of the notes are similar to orange blossoms and orchids, while others can be quite spicy like ginger and sweet like grapefruit. You can find it on the market for around $17.00.
Iron Goddess of Mercy — $24.00
Iron Goddess of Mercy is probably China’s most famous oolong tea. Brown in the mountainous region of the southern Fujian province, the leaves are specifically harvested in the Anxi region. Rumour has it that monks used to train monkeys to harvest the leaves of the plants that were precariously located on cliff edges.
Originally, Iron Goddess of Mercy was exclusive to the emperors of China, such was the quality of this monkey-picked tea. Today, you don’t have to twist a monkey’s arm to get yourself some of this tea. Most tea shops and online stores will sell Iron Goddess of Mercy. A top-notch batch of it will set you back around $24.00.
Da Hong Pao — $12.00
Da Hong Pao, or Red Robe tea, is revered for its health benefits and dark colour. According to legend, this oolong tea saved the mother of an emperor in the Ming dynasty. It should be good enough for you if it was good enough for her!
Da Hong Pao has a smoky and sharp flavour, similar to Gundpowder black tea, with hints of caramel, butter, and toast! These leaves are thick strips with a glossy look and are among some of the most pricey in the tea world. Da Hong Pao leaves that are over 1,000 years old can cost $1 million for just 1 kilogram. But your standard packets will set you back around $12.00.
Gaoshan — $45.00
This High Mountain tea is harvested by hand twice a year, once in October (winter Gaoshan) and then in June (spring Gaoshan). The leaves are laid out on a large tarp to dry before the oxidation process. When dried, these leaves will boast rose, jasmine, and geranium aromas.
After the aromas of Gaoshan develop, the leaves are folded and withered for eight hours. Flavour-wise, Gaoshan is sweet with notes of flowers and pine, with a buttery aftertaste that is often creamy. Price-wise, you’re looking at around $45.00 for a package.
Jin Xuan Tea — $23.00
Jin Xuan Tea, or Golden Daylily or Nai Xiang, is famous for its flowery and creamy taste. Jin Xuan is grown at higher altitudes than other teas. Add some milk to this oolong tea and you’ll have an even creamier and more buttery flavour.
You might not need to add milk to Jin Xuan tea as the leaves naturally produce a milky flavour and aroma when oxidised for a certain span of time. Milk oolongs will be labelled as flavoured oolongs. A regular Jin Xuan will cost you around $23.00.
Duck Sh*t — $51.00
Duck Sh*t tea, or Ya Shi Xiang, is not only the funniest named tea of all time, but it’s also one of the best oolongs on the market. Legend has it, farmers discovered this unique taste in Ping Keng Tou and to avoid it being exploited by other farmers, they said the land was covered in duck poo.
Duck Sh*t tea has a sour cherry aroma and a buttery almond flavour. This silky brew deserves to be served with a slice of cake like any great tea. Despite the humble, if not disgusting name, Duck Sh*t can come at a hefty price. A good quality package will cost you $51.00.
Dong Ding — $19.00
Dong Ding is a smooth caramel-flavoured tea with nutty notes. A delicate brew with little to no astringency, Ding Dong also boasts a roasty finish thanks to it being heated over charcoal.
Sometimes called Frozen Summit Oolong tea, Dong Ding originates in Taiwan, where it is grown at an altitude of 1000 meters and above, resulting in a fresh and powerful tea that will leave any sceptic as a fan. In terms of money, a package of Dong Ding will cost around $19.00
Dan Cong — $20.00
Coming in hot from the Guangdong province of China, Dan Cong is a variety of the tilapia of oolongs that takes on the flavour of whatever fruit or flower it’s combined with.
Dan Cong tea is almost always mixed with orange blossom, orchid, grapefruit, almond, or ginger. Dan Cong typically checks in at around $20.00 on supermarket shelves, which is standard for a tea of its variety and potential.
Formosa Bai Hao — $55.00
Formosa Bai Hao is heavily oxidised and fermented oolong tea closest to any other to black. This rich, full-bodied cup is classy as hell and one of the most expensive teas in the world. A decent quality tub of Formosa Bai Hao will cost you around $55.00
This brew is reddish in colour and has a sweet and fruity taste with warm and spicy undertones. If you’re going to buy several oolongs to try out, we’d suggest leaving Formosa Bai Hao til last given its fermentation time. You want to give the other teas a chance, at least.
Si Ji Chun — $16.00
Si Ji Chun comes from the Nantou area of Taiwan. This hand-picked and hand-processed tea is grown in a very mountainous region and — like all high-grown oolongs — is therefore valued for its richer and nicer tastes.
Si Ji Chun is an easy tea to love. Easy on the palate and complex with flavour and profile, it’s a golden-looking drink with an aroma of jasmine, lily, and honey. Taste-wise, there is also a hint of honey to go with the fruit body. You needn’t worry about this tea being extortionate. You can get yourself some for $16.00.