The Ku Cha Holiday Gift Guide to Fabulous Oolong Teas

The Ku Cha Holiday Gift Guide to Fabulous Oolong Teas

In just a little over three weeks, 2023 draws to a close and we enter 2024. Between now and then most of us will engage in lots of holiday merriment. We’ll bake cookies shaped like little people, and decorate our homes with evergreen boughs, lights, holiday treasures and more. And we will feast with friends and family, head out to happy holiday parties and savor the enchanting once-a-year vibes that come with the holidays.

Gifts matter this time of the year. We think tea and tea accessories all make outstanding presents, from stocking stuffers to grand offerings for extra-special loved ones. Among the many options for tea gifts, we encourage people to consider oolong teas, the style of tea grown in China and Taiwan that serves as a bridge between bold black tea and subtle whites and greens. Most oolongs are grown in China’s Fujian and Guangdong Provinces, as well as Taiwan.

Ten famous oolong teas

Different styles of tea

Blacks undergo the most oxidation, meaning they get exposed to the more oxygen than other styles, which changes the leaves’ color and transforms the flavor. You know how a banana turns from yellow to brown? That’s due to oxidation. White and green teas are the least oxidized, and their colors stand in stark contrast to black teas. Puerh teas see both oxidation and fermentation. But oxidation for oolong teas is somewhere in between. And we think that midway zone is ideal for yielding especially superb and interesting tea.

Farmers in Taiwan hand-picking tea leaves.

In addition to the gorgeous range of flavors, the style also delivers an especially rich bounty of health benefits. Black and green teas, for example, each present their own unique health advantages, based in part on the processing they undergo to become proper black and green teas. But oolongs draw health benefits from both styles, as they sort of straddle both green and black tea. Win win!

Interested in wowing your friends, family and colleagues with compelling tea gifts? You can’t go wrong with a selection of outstanding oolongs. As they sip their way through the following selection of oolongs, from Fujian, Guangdong and Taiwan, we predict many of them will become oolong champions.

Holiday Tea Gifts: Tie Guan Yin Oolong

Iron Goddess of Mercy – the most famous oolong in the world.

Some oolongs are common, and served in restaurants around the world. Others are rare, prized and often destined to collectors or people who just obsess over oolong’s many charms. And then there’s the famous oolongs, like Tie Guan Yin, also known as “Iron Goddess of Mercy.” 

This tea from China’s Fujian Province captured the attention of tea lovers long ago for its sweet and floral fragrance, bright taste and smooth finish and lingers in the mouth. As with many oolongs, multiple brewings produce different taste and aromatic experiences. We often steep Tie Guan Yin and other oolongs many times before finally releasing the leaves into the compost heap.

Holiday Tea Gifts: Dan Cong Honey Orchid Oolong

Dan Cong oolongs grow in individual groves. They all offer different taste and aroma sensations.

Dan Congs are signature oolongs from Guangdong Province, one of the three main areas of oolong production in China and Taiwan. In Chinese, Dan Cong means “single grove,” which explains one of the unique things about this tea. Where most tea of the same style, like oolong, gets harvested, mixed together and processed on tea farms, Dan Cong teas come from specific, separate groves of trees. Harvests and processing are kept altogether from each grove, so when you sip a Dan Cong you know you are enjoying the leaves from a tidy group of tea trees on a plantation. 

We love trying different Dan Congs. Even though the tea trees are the same Camellia sinensis plant and the groves are near one another, each grove produces a unique type of fragrant leaf. And the Honey Orchid version of Dan Cong, you guessed it, projects aromas of orchid and flavor notes of apricot. Mmmm.

Holiday Tea Gifts: Dong Ding Oolong

Taiwan has become a vibrant center for oolong production.

Any self-respecting oolong gift guide must include Taiwanese oolongs. The island didn’t start cultivating oolong until close to 1800 (scholars believe oolong first started getting made in China in the middle of the 1600s), but in the more than 200 years since Taiwan has emerged as an oolong powerhouse. Farmers there produce a diversity of delicious oolongs. We work hard to source the best.

In Chinese Dong Ding means “Frozen Summit” and it refers to the name of the Taiwanese mountain where the tea is cultivated. Interestingly, the first oolong plants brought to Taiwan were from China’s famous Wuyi Mountains, which grows the world-famous rock oolongs.

Tea farmers in Taiwan hand pick the leaves for Dong Ding, and leave the stems attached. The method makes for a sweeter infusion. This highly fragrant tea possesses a full-bodied taste that is slightly sweet with a hint of fruitiness. It also is extremely smooth.

Holiday Tea Gifts: Milk Oolong

Milk oolong = pure fun. Kids love it, too!

Milk oolong is just fun. This tea comes to us from Taiwan, where after harvesting the tea leaves get steamed with a non-dairy creamer before they are roasted. The result is a unique and creamy flavor. This isn’t an oolong purists tea, but it’s one of our most popular flavored oolongs! We love it, and can attest to its approval among kids!

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