Tea production in Taiwan began after a mass migration of millions of people from China during the middle of the 19th Century. The immigrants brought tea cultivars and oolong processing knowledge from Southern Fujian that have evolved to produce modern oolong styles such as bai, hao, bao zhong, high mountain oolong, and iron goddess of mercy. In the past 15 years many Taiwanese tea producers have left the small, crowded island of Taiwan in search of new places to produce oolong. New Zealand, Thailand, and even South and Central China are now home to Taiwanese tea producers looking to explore different terroir while continuing to produce popular Taiwanese styles that combine flavors familiar and new.
The finest example of a tea style born in Taiwan is bai hao. Unlike the stripe-shaped teas of Northern Fujian and Guangdong, and the globe-shaped teas of Southern Fujian, bai hao has its own shape, as well as its own process, and picking standard. Both the pekoe and orange pekoe leaf are used. The finished tea has a slightly rolled, twisted shape to it. The major revelation is the leaf begins to oxidize before harvest. This gives the finished tea leaves a variety of colors and creates the unmistakable flavor.
Traditionally, bai hao undergoes a lengthy oxidation process that creates a deep, reddish-orange cup color and fruity flavors with notes reminiscent of baking spice. Growing in popularity are lighter oxidized versions following mostly the same process, but they are considerably lighter in color-a golden orange hue-and lack the more classic baking spice notes. All of our 2016 bai hao offerings are from Doi Mae Salong in Thailand, not Taiwan.
White-Tipped Jade Heart is our second example of bai hao (white-tipped) oolong from 2016. It is made from the Taiwanese Qing Xin (Jade Heart) cultivar. Typically used in Taiwan to produce high mountain oolongs, in this context it is loaded with tropical fruit, and wildflower with the delicate baking spice flavors typical of a traditional bai hao.
Using a gaiwan, rinse 6-7 grams of leaf with water slightly cooler than boiling. Steep the first infusion for 1 minute, the second for 45 seconds, increasing time for each additional infusion by 30-45 seconds.
Bai Hao tends to cold-brew poorly, resulting in a weak, astringent iced tea that doesn’t allow its best flavors to shine.