Thursday, October 29, 2009
Is Taiwanese Oolong Usually Blended
Two customers came in to share with me a Dong Ding oolong they had purchased elsewhere. They told me it was $18 per ounce; I was very excited to try it. I normally don't care how expensive a tea is, but the pricing and the quality should match.
After two infusions, I asked them what they thought. They said it tasted good enough, but they were more eager to know what I thought of the tea. I told them I didn't think it was a bad tea, but I wouldn't pay $18 for it. Later, I laid out the open leaves for them to see and asked them to look closely. There were two different styles of leaves in it. One was roasted and one was not. They told me that they've never "studied" tea leaves after they were done drinking tea before and thought it to be quite interesting. They asked if it's a good thing to mix tea like that and if Taiwanese Oolong teas are usually blended.
I told them sometimes Taiwanese teas are blended, but it doesn't mean that it's a bad thing. I have a tea friend who owns a tea business outside of Taipei. He once told me that his clients would order more than 100 pounds of Oriental Beauty. There is no way that he could get a single crop from one source of Oriental Beauty in that quantity. He searched for teas that had similar quality and taste and he would mix them together and finish the tea off with a touch-up roasting. I have tried those teas before and they tasted good. One wouldn't even notice that the tea was mixed.
In 2005, my friend took me to see the Pinglin Baozhong competition. One of the assistants saw us and went to prepare a gaiwan. He put three different Baozhongs in the gaiwan. I asked my friend what the assistant was doing, and he told me he was going to make us some tea. I wondered why he mixed three different Baozhongs. I drank a cup of that blend and it was one of the best Baozhongs I have ever tasted.
I think it's alright for Taiwanese teas to be blended. If they are, the teas are generally from similar processing methods. I rarely see a tea that is blended from different processes, unless it is low grade or low quality.