With the rise of the milk tea markets like Taiwanese milk tea and commercialized tea drinks, the kind that sometimes have flavored tapioca balls swimming in it, the real premium quality of milk oolong known to the masses has been completely altered. Many claim to be selling milk-oolongs but these are actually artificially flavored and pale in comparison to the authentic one.
What is Milk Oolong Tea?
Originally, this tea produce is a cultivar (a plant variety which was produced through selective breeding). It was derived from a tea bush found in different regions of Taiwan. It is more popularly known in those areas as Jin Xuan, cultivar of camellia sinensis. Jin Xuan, also known as Tai Cha #12, is a relatively new discovery, developed just in the 1980’s. Such that all good oolongs come from a specific tea bush cultivar, the uniqueness of each is relative from which territory it was cultured. Today, Jin Xuan is one of Taiwan’s four main cultivars— this is not a small feat as there are hundreds of cultivars grown in Taiwan alone. THis tea, therefore, is made of pure herb leaves and not a single drop of milk is used in the process. In Western culturers, Jin Xuan is so uncommon that it does not even have an English name. But it is described by Westerners who are familiar with it as the tea with the most diverse taste, and no style better shows what a carefully manipulated leaf processing can do.
How is Milk Oolong Tea Made?
Authentic milk oolong is very delicious and popular. The process of making it starts at the very moment you pluck a leaf from its stem. Once separated, oxidation commences; if you’ll allow the oxidation to take its course, you’ll find yourself with a malty black tea with a slight astringency. If you prefer a greener tea, stop the oxidation before it progresses and preserve the bright green qualities of the leaf. Oolongs are the products or partially oxidized leave manipulated at the desired oxidation levels. Jin Xuan is oxidized anywhere between 80 to 85 percent oxidation.
However, timing of oxidation, though important, is not the overall process of making Jin Xuan. These has a lot of recipes and variables taken into account like how long it is withered, how it is tossed, rolled and compressed. The temperature and humidity play a major part to create an oolong with standards at par. Then the roasting begins a process almost all teas undergo before the whole cycle is completed.
The main goal of this kind of processing is to allow water from the leaves to evaporate and to let the leaves rest enough to produce different kinds of flavors. Highly-skilled tea makers can do all this just by feeling, looking and smelling the leaves.
What does Milk Oolong Tea taste like?
Jin Xuan milk oolong tea has a very milky profile that it is always mistaken to be processed with milk or cream. it has a lovely. roasted taste with an abundance of sweetness. The tea leaves are transformed into an aromatic flowery flavor upon first steeping with a creamy secondary tasted which leaves the mouth feeling smooth. It also has a unique sensation of becoming a bit powderish. A second or third steeping would highlight the flowery taste more and would leave a light sensation on your palette. Intense heating of this tea would allow the milk essence of it to be tasted at the first sip, then it is washed down with all the other flavors as you continuously down it.
Different tastes can be extracted from its complex leaves. A tea-maker cab produce anything between a deep chocolate flavor to roasted nuttiness, buttery and flowery flavor to an almost tropical-tasting tea in just a single batch of Jin Xuan oolong tea leaves. You can steep this tea a dozen times over and it will produce a different taste each time.
How to brew milk
Complex teas, such as this, demand high level of skills in brewing. This tea thrives in full boiling water, and the secret is to brew with a heavy hand at short amounts of time. These are best savored in small infusions. Should you have big leaves, make sure you see them expanding twice their size first, as this would allow the flavor to be released.
Which is famous?
To simplify, the three kinds of tea made from Jin Xuan are the green oolong, medium roast oolong and the dark oolong. Green oolong or the jade oolongs are the most popular as it resembles a taste similar or green tea but more flowery and flavorful. But medium roasted and dark oolong is just as good, the former developing a taste with accents of honey, sesame and grain, while the dark oolong can be as strong as the taste of coffee.