Formosa Teas - Bountiful Flavours from a Beautiful Island
Some of the world’s finest oolong teas are produced in Taiwan, a small island situated in the western Pacific Ocean, that was once known as ‘Formosa’. It was so named after being discovered by Portuguese sailors in 1542, who called it ‘Ilha Formosa’, meaning ‘beautiful island’. Taiwan produces black, white, green and pu erh teas, but it is famed for its oolong teas, that grow high up in the mountains in a climate perfect for tea cultivation. Oolong teas that are planted at higher altitudes tend to grow at a slower rate, resulting in leaves with high concentrations of the most amazing flavours and rich, floral aromas. Most of the tea grown in Taiwan is for domestic consumption, so the limited amount available for export makes it a sought-after commodity.
Although indigenous tea plants grow in some mountain areas of Taiwan, most teas produced there started from seedlings brought in from China. The Dutch East India Company was instrumental in the beginnings of the tea trade in Taiwan. While under Dutch colonial rule from 1624, tea was imported from China’s Fujian province. The Dutch were expelled from Taiwan in 1662, and by 1683 the island was under the control of China’s Qing Dynasty. Tea cultivation began in the early 19th century, from Chinese seedlings that were planted to produce tea solely for Taiwan and China, as China had imposed restrictions on foreign trade. The First Opium War of 1839-42 resulted in these restrictions being lifted and Taiwan was then used as a port for foreign trade.
In 1860, an enterprising British tea merchant, John Dodd, encouraged farmers to increase tea production, and started up a tea company specialising in oolong tea, which was exported to England and America. Between 1895 and 1945, Japan controlled Taiwan, and during this time there was more emphasis on black tea production rather than oolong. The Japanese put much effort and investment into developing Taiwan’s tea industry, and this, along with the knowledge and expertise of the Chinese, has made it the success it is today. These days mostly oolong teas are produced, mainly on small family farms, where great care and attention is given to producing teas of exceptional quality. Some teas bear the names of the region they were planted, where they may have developed unique characteristics and flavours peculiar to that region.
Tea-Direct has a great selection of Formosa Teas that are sure to delight, whether you are a novice or a connoisseur to the world of oolong tea. Here are just a few examples of these exquisite teas, that are bursting with delicious fruit and floral flavours, and the most divine aromas:
Formosa Fancy Oolong Tea is a luxury oolong, sourced from Pei Pu, Taiwan. It is light and fruity with a smooth finish, and yields a golden yellow liquor when infused.
High Mountain Ali Shan Oolong Tea is regarded as one of Taiwan’s finest teas. It grows in the misty, high altitudes of one of the most famous mountains in Taiwan. Made with the highest grade leaves, it is wonderfully light and fragrant.
Jade Oolong Tea is sourced from Nantou County, the main tea-growing region of Taiwan. Its large, tightly rolled leaves gradually unfurl when infused to reveal a lovely deep green tea that reveals complex aromas, sweet flavours and a beautiful floral character.