Floating Leaves Tea Home ---Shiuwen's Blog!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Chin Hsin Oolong and Chin Hsin Da Pa

My tea friend Michael came in with a can of Alishan (阿里山茶). It was a present from from his friend from when he visited Taiwan. Some tea friends were here to try the tea together with us.

I poured hot water and rinsed the tea. I passed the gaiwan around to let people smell the aroma. After that, we all thought that it smelled different from all the Alishan we normally had. We decided to taste it to see whether or not the tea was good. We had the first infusion and still didn't know what to make out of this tea. We all agreed that the tea didn't taste bad, but it was something new to us.

I passed the second infusion around and told everyone that I had tasted this kind of flavor before, but couldn't remember when and from which tea exactly. I took some open leaves and let people look at them. I knew that it was not a Chin Hsin Oolong varietal (青心烏龍), which is what we are more used to in a high mountain tea. The leaves are smaller than in a Chin Hsin varietal and are closer together. The sweetness suddenly reminded me of Bai Hao Oolong (白毫烏龍)and I yelled out loud, "I think this is Chin Hsin Da Pa青心大Pa." Friends looked at me and asked what Chin Hsin Da Pa was.

I took a bag of Bai Hao Oolong and put some leaves in a white bowl. I told them that I wanted to see if my guess was right. After the leaves were infused in the bowl, I took some sets of leaves out. We compared these leaves with the Alishan ones we were drinking. The Alishan ones were bigger and greener, but the shapes looked similar. I told people that it was my first time to have Chin Hsin Da Pa in a high mountain Oolong style.

People in Taiwan believe that Chin Hsin Oolong and Chin Hsin Da Pa are originally from China. In 1895, Japan occupied Taiwan and saw that tea was an important and big business. The Japanese authorities set up a tea research institute (茶葉研習所) and selected Chin Hsin Oolong, Chin Hsin Da Pa, Big Leave Oolong (大葉烏龍) and Hard Stem Red Heart (硬枝紅心) as the four varietals to promote for initial growing in Taiwan.

Chin Hsin Oolong and Chin Hsin Da Pa are now two of the most popular varietals for tea in Taiwan.

Chin Hsin Oolong: It's believed that Chin Hsin originally came from Fujian province in China. A tea expert went to Fujian and believed that he found Chin Hsin's "ancestor plant": Soft Stem Oolong (軟枝烏龍). Chin Hsin Oolong can be said to be the most popular Oolong varietal in Taiwan. You can find this varietal in Baozhong, Dong Ding and High Mountain teas. Tea lovers like Chin Hsin for its delicate and soft fragrance. The price for Chin Hsin is second only to Tieguayin from the original Tieguanyin plants(正樷鐵觀音). Chin Hsin grows slower than lots of other varietals in Taiwan and it's more prone to disease. Due to the high quality tea that it can produce, though, it's still the most popular varietal for Oolong in Taiwan.

Chin Hsin Da Pa: This varietal is also believed to be from China. Chin Hsin Da Pa is mostly grown in Hsinchu and Miaoli. Chin Hsin Da Pa's leaves are more oval than Chin Hsin Oolong. Outside of the the Summer tea season, farmers use machines to harvest this varietal and make restaurant teas. However, in June, after some insects attack the plants, farmers make a special Oolong called Bai Hao Oolong. Chin Hsin Da Pa is the most popular varietal for making this tea. The highest grade of this tea has a very distinct honey, peach and/or apricot note.


tenuki said...

Is Chin Hsin Da Pa a sub varietal of Chin Hsin or something or is the name similarity coincidence?

Shiuwen said...

I don't think Chin Hsin Da Pa is a sub varietal of Chin Hsin. You probably noticed I don't have a chinese character for Pa. It's not a chinese word. I heard it's a cantonese word. I asked people and don't know how the tea has a cantonese word in it. In Taiwan, this varietal is mostly grown where HaKa people live.

Will said...

I think the character is '冇' (like 有 but empty, which is kind of related to the Cantonese meaning of mou5).


Shiuwen said...

Hi Will,

Nice to hear from you!
Thank you for the information. I was lazy to put the word on.
Hope all is well and perhaps see you soon for tea.