Oolong tea has become increasingly scarce. Shifts in global weather patterns combined with a large demand for oolong in Asia has soaked up the majority of the production in Southeastern China and Taiwan, the primary oolong producing areas. Skilled, enterprising tea makers have been looking for new locations with the proper climate, soil, and elevation to produce quality tea. Unfortunately the tea industry has been slow to adopt these new growing regions, such as New Zealand, Central China, and Thailand.
The perception is that the quality isn’t there - the truth is that the quality is often abundant, but without a well-known name or growing region it’s often hard to enter the market. The numerous arguments for exploring new oolongs are pragmatic, but above all else the quality offers ample incentive.
Often a growing area will be affected by difficult weather; growing in different regions leads to innovation that occurs when adapting a tea to new location. Expanding the growing area of oolongs can lessen demand and lower the cost of a tea that commands a premium based on its name or familiarity with tea drinkers. New tea producers have to demonstrate quality to enter the market, and the drive to succeed develops excellent quality.
Our Ruby Oolong is from Thailand, which isn’t recognized as a big tea producing country. Over the past 5 years or so Chinese and Taiwanese producers have moved to Thailand and developed some very intriguing oolongs. Ruby Oolong is a darker style oolong produces a deep red cup. The flavor is sweet and reminiscent of black cherry, apricot, and baking spice. It is low in astringency. I attribute the unusual flavor to the Taiwanese cultivar, a version of the Qing Xin that can grow under a variety of conditions, combined with the high 1200 masl growing elevation and Thai soil.
In a gaiwan, steep 8-9 grams with boiling water. A long rinse may be necessary to loosen up the machine-rolled leaves. Steep the first in fusion for 60-75 seconds, the second for 45-50 seconds and a third back to 60-75 seconds.
It makes an excellent cold-brewed tea. In order to cold-brew, rinse the leaves with boiling water. Then steep for 5 minutes with just enough boiling water to cover the leaves. When the time is up add cold water and steep for 24-36 hours.