What ever happened to "Formosa Oolong"?


Many years back my favorite tea was Twinings "Formosa Oolong". It had that ripe peach/apricot flavor and a wonderful aroma. Then something changed, the flavor was gone or at least changed to something very different. This was probably about the same time my Chinese History professor gave me my "white whale" oolong sending me on a now thirty-year quest.
Right now I am drinking a cup of Bai Hao Oolong from Imperial Tea. That is the old "Formosa Oolong" flavor at an astronomical price difference. Wha' happened? At least I know that my taste buds and flavor-memory of WW ("white whale") Oolong are pretty much ok. I had begun accumulated a bunch of Oolongs about that time also mostly TGY's. I remember one tin canister of a cheap TGY "Tea Set Brand" that was quite good. Now I have a hard time distinguishing between the new TGY's and other Oolongs:they are beginning to all blur into each other. Now this may be my tendency to choose lightly oxidized Oolongs, but "Twelve Trees" is nearly indistinguishable from "Crooked Horse" or other green little fists that come from various dealers. Again wha' happened?
Time to call me Ahab?
WEL
Reply to
lubarsky

If you are looking for a good oolong tea. you have to choose oolong from taiwan or Formosa , Oolong tea has become a religion or culture among taiwan people. i use to order classic oolong from a tea store online.
formatting link
classOolong.htm , the favor is quite similar to the tiguanyin . even better. and it is cheap. the service is fast .
best corine
Reply to
cup of tea

Twinings Formosa Oolong was not Bai Hao. I think it was closer to High Mountain or Gao Shan. The product dried up in the 90's. I know tea memories are more misleading than not. While I'm here I got some Bai Hao last year and it was the most disappointing tea I've ever tasted given the fanfare. The taste was lackluster and no floral notes I associate with Taiwan. I think it would be a good tea for a queen from England with no taste in tea.
Jim
Reply to
Space Cowboy

Well at least this package of Bai Hao tastes like the old Twining's. And I can't fault it much on either flavor or aroma. This is only the second year that I knew of the number of tea vendors on line. For me it was either Upton or local oriental markets. My few books on mostly replaced by this newsgroup and the various tea blogs. Most the teas I have purchased have been never-buy-again disappointments, but then the same tea style would probably vary in quality from vendor to vendor as well as year to year. Still looking for nice earthy Oolong with a good vegetal aftertaste.
WEL
P.S. The Bao Hai was a 50 gm sample, now I am in for 1/4 lb.
Reply to
lubarsky

The "Formosa Oolong" sold by Grace Tea Company has this peachy quality that I, too, missed.
I served this tea, once, to a Taiwanese guy who was very into tea (and a good teacher). His first response was that this tea wouldn't stand up to a second infusion, though the first infusion was fine by him.
That's when I realized *how* it is possible to enjoy a tea that's so *cheap* by people with high standards. This tea is probably considered lower-grade in Taiwan because it can't be multiply infused... whereas, for me, starting with the assumption that I will only brew it once, it's nice (and cheap).
Well, that's my theory. Jump on it, guys ;)
james-henry holland hobart and william smith colleges geneva, new york 14456 usa
=
Reply to
Thitherflit

James.
When I began drinking "good" I didn't know you were supposed to be able make several infusions. I discarded the leaves after one, after all I was brought up on teabags of Swee-Touch-Nee tea. I still drink tea "american style": 6 gms. per 10 oz. pot or cup, drink the whole thing. Now I can get at least three or four cups out of the leaves. I was given a complete Gong Fu set, but never used it. Too fond of the American Tea Ceremony I suppose.
Bill Lubarsky
Reply to
lubarsky

Jim, I just got some from "illu" (Dragon Teas? - China) on Ebay. It was not terribly expensive and it is delightful. Floral, "spring-timey", delicate and endured several infusions without diminishing flavour. Right now, it is my fave....probably because I am sooo over winter and it brings the promise of a change. I was drinking a good deal of Da Hoa Pao this winter, which seemed appropriate. Time to move on. Shen
Reply to
Shen

I will, on occasion, drink "cheap" teas and still enjoy them. Not being able to rebrew it well is not a sin... I mean, if the cheapness compensates for that fact, that is.
However, teas that can't stand up to a rebrew generally will mean they are thin and lacking much body, and also be a bit bland and boring. If you're only after one thing in the tea, and the cheap one does the job... then that's good. As with all hobbies though... once you've gotten the good stuff, it's hard to turn back.....
MarshalN
formatting link

Reply to
MarshalN

The old Twinings was the nuggets and not the munched leaf. My 4oz of BaiHao wouldn't fit in a 113g tin. Twinings would have sold Bai Hao as a tradename. The price of BaiHao was never in the penny/gram range. It was mainly the Formosa Oolong I drank during the 70s,80s, 90s till it dried up and Al Gore invented the Internet. There were other brands of FO over those decades. Any tea from Taiwan would meet your definition if it isn't Bai Hao. If you can't wait and have access to a Chinatown buy some Pouchong.
Jim
PS I'm sticking by my memories. Your Memories May Vary.
Reply to
Space Cowboy

I have tried lots of Formosa Oolongs, very few have tasted like the old Twining's. I have two or three Pouchongs on hand now: all are very floral, not a hint of the apricot/peaches flavor. Besides the old Twining's leaf was brown after steeping not green like my Pouchongs.
WEL
Reply to
lubarsky

Formosa oolong was basically any oolong that is from Formosa. If you liked the Twinings, you might try the lowest grade of Tung Ting oolong from Ten Ren, which is very similar.
It's a better example of the same sort of tea. You can get a much cheaper Formosa oolong for daily drinking if you'd like. In fact, you can probably call Roy Fong and tell him you love the Bai Hao Oolong but you'd like a cheaper tea in the same family for daily drinking and he'd probably come up with a good one.
Something in the nineties happened to TGY. It became extremely popular, and the demand exceeded the supply. Now all the fashionable people who were drinking TGY are now drinking pu ehr instead, so hopefylly the TGY prices will come back down again. --scott
--
"C'est un Nagra.  C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."
Reply to
Scott Dorsey

I used the term "Formosa Oolong" only since that was simply how Twining's identified it. I have has three or four Tung Ting teas over the years, but none has really grabbed me so I rather gave up on the variety. I have a large cardboard box filled with very attractive tea canisters all of which at one time held "Tit Koon Yum" or other variations on the spelling. They all probably came out of the same place with random contents. I only had access to one Chinese market for many years so I only bought what they had. The internet then wasn't even a gleam in Al Gore's eye.
WEL
Reply to
lubarsky

"Space Cowboy" wrote ... ...
Tit Koon Yum is Cantonese for Tie Guan Yin. As we honestly share our knowledge it turns out you've seemed to have tried all the major groups of teas from Taiwan and none of them fit what you remember about Twinings. It was good but not great and not unique. I think you jerk us around. Cheap Tung Ting smells like fresh broccoli. It doesn't get any more vegetal than that.
Jim
Reply to
Space Cowboy

Jim
I'm sorry, but when I started drinkin tea with regularity I had access only to supermarket teas, and had NO tea knowledge. The Twining's "Formosa Oolong" was one of the supermarket teas available along with the usual "orange pekoe" varieties. I liked it. I drank it until it went away. This was close to forty years ago.
The tea that you think I am jerking you around with was in a opened unmarked bag given to me by a college professor who received it from friends who came over from China. He did not know what it was.
I sent the last teaspoon to another old professor of mine who was teaching in Hong Kong to see if it could be identified. It got to him just as he was packing to come back to the 'states so he made a cup and drank it. When I was going to school in Boston I hit every Chinese market I could get to. My first vacation from my first job was spent in San Francisco Eating my way across Chinatown and shopping for tea. Lots of nice tea but no hits.
This may have been a cheap regional tea from my professor's home town. A rare tea picked only during spring in the Year of the Dog . Or anything in between, I just don't know.
It was probably an Oolong. The leaves were dark before steeping and twisted. The infusion was a clear very pale yellow when viewed in a white cup. The flavor was aromatic and a bit woodsy (not woody) with a definite vegetal after-taste. By this I mean the flavor of the water you cooked asparagus in, not grass. The aftertaste was the only thing vegetal about it! No floral notes that I can recall. The leaves after steeping were large: the length was in the 20 to 30 mm range. The color was either coppery with green blotches or green with coppery blotches.
That is it. Two Issues. What was the old Twining's FO and why did it go away: and what the hell have I been looking for since the early 1970's?
Bill Lubarsky
P.S. I knew that Tit Koon Yum, Koon Yum, Ti Kuan Yin, etc. are all spelling variations. I also knew that Formosa Oolong means almost nothing in identifying a specific tea. That is why I used """" quotation marks in the earlier messages. I could only report how the tea was identified on the packaging.
Reply to
lubarsky

Commercial FO disappeared when it became too expensive for the Brown Betty. The only mysterious teas from China are the ones sold as the private reserve of Shaolin monks or the like.
Jim
...I delete you...
Reply to
Space Cowboy

Ok. I give up. There are no mysterious Teas. Everyone knows about High Mountain Kuding Yen Cha, and Yunan Golden Bud, and Yong Chun Fo Shu, and Bai HaoYin Zhen, and Wei Shan Mao Jian and all and any teas I might come across. So it's just my particular ignorance. I have never actually had any of these teas, but if did and didn't recognize them... don't bother asking.
WEL

Reply to
lubarsky

Hey, hey, guys, I don't think anyone is being critical here - just throwing out some suggestions. This group is really very, very helpful. I am a tea novice and have learned so much by inquiring of this group. A thought: why don't you get a hold of Twinings Customer Service and ask them. I'm sure they would be of assistance in recognizing this tea since they packaged it.......................... Peace, guys. Shen
Reply to
Shen

Shen.
Right now the Twining's is a side issue.
What I have learned over the past week or so is that there are styles in tea that come and go. Right now the green and gold Oolongs seem to be in and the more oxidized pan-fired ones a bit on the out. Tea seemed to be a product with such a long history and tradition that change and innovation was never anything I thought about. Well there seems to be not only new styles but new varietals. Who knew? I see now that it was unrealistic to expect that anyone could identify one Oolong out of lord knows how many by any means outside of actually having some. I also didn't expect even under the category of Wu Yi Oolongs there were so many!
Tonight I tried some new green teas that really have surprised me. Usually I dislike green tea since I have had to many that were astringent and/or ashy (yes, I know now that the astringency is desired in some green teas). But you live and learn.
I will still consider my last purchase of Bai Hao Oolong as being close to the "type" of Formosa Oolong whatever it's origin. I will try to stay away from TGY's for a while since: 1 I have enough to last me for the next six months; 2 I honestly can not tell most of them apart.
Bill Lubarsky
Reply to
lubarsky

DrinksForum website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.