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How Taiwan Wulong tea is made?

Updated: Dec 9, 2022

In this post we will check the main steps to make a High Mountain Wulong in the most famous tea areas of Taiwan.

Main steps for producing taiwanese wulong:

To create a quality tea, certain equally important factors have to converge, just like in a work of art. In this article we want to give you an approach to this, as closesly as possible.

Everything starts with the correct date, in the spring of Taiwan they harvest between March and May depending on the area and altitude. In tea towns during this time you can smell the sweetness of tea leaves in the air (literally), the factories, masters and workers work day and night to deliver quality teas to the demanding customers who arrive in a rush once the harvest begins to ensure the best batches.

Which day do they harvest?

The first thing is to choose the correct day to harvest, which will depend on the harvest protocol. In the case of the high-mountain wulong, the aim is for the bud to be small and it is harvested together with the 3-5 leaves that follow.

To achieve this, farmers must be attentive, observe their tea plants and as soon as they see that the right moment has come, start harvesting immediately.

It is a complex thing, generally they have to go week after week, day after day to their plantations to be ready at the right time. If the tea garden is in High Mountain, they must travel often or stay in their factories, if they do not live there, to be able to carefully observe their plantations.

As each slope of a mountain receives unique climatic conditions, each plantation is also ready to be harvested at different times, hence the complexity and care that farmers must take.

How is harvesting in High Mountain?

The second step is clearly to harvest. Each farmer chooses his own team. In this case, he must have the team of harvesters more or less ready and, when the time comes, they can start plucking the tea leaves.

This is decided one or two days before harvesting, as long as the weather conditions allow it. If it rains, the harvest may be delayed due to the importance of the Sun and the heat in the next step. But it won't take too long either!

The harvest begins early, at 6 or 7 am the team of harvesters is already on the mountainside, quickly plucking the precious tea leaves to deliver them to the next team that continues with the processing.

The complexity of withering

The third step begins as the tea leaves arrive at the factory, here a second team spreads the leaves on big tarps, letting them slowly lose water and continue the oxidation process, which began slowly once the leaves were cut. .

This is a very delicate moment, where an experienced master decides how long to leave the tea leaves under the weather conditions of the harvest day so that they lose moisture and oxidize just enough. Playing with the tools available to maintain favorable conditions (such as fans, black nets to cover the roof, dehumidifiers, etc.)

The oxidation process is, in very simple terms, the interaction between the molecules of the leaves and the oxygen in the air, just like when you leave a leaf of a tree on a table and you can see how it changes color with the passage of days.

In the case of tea, they will keep the leaves between 20-40 minutes under the sun to produce a slightly oxidized Wulong, like our Li Shan Wulong or Ali Shan Wulong. This step is different in case they produce white tea or red tea.

In-door withering

The fourth step, in-door withering, begins when the masters indicate that the leaves are ready to continue with their oxidation and drying under controlled climatic conditions, at a temperature of about 20ºC and humidity of 70% or so, although they vary depending on the producers, on the final product, the people in charge of its production and the conditions in which the leaves have entered.

This process is very long and the first batches that entered can easily remain 12 hours in here.

During this time, the withering team is in charge of stirring and disperse the leaves in the large trays that can be seen in the picture, with the aim that their oxidation and loss of moisture is even.

Stir Fixation

The fifth step, "fixation", begins at night and involves cylinder - shaped ovens that dry and tumble the leaves very gently.

In this case, a new tea master started working at about 11 pm and finished at 6:30 am... the next day!!!

This process is very important, let's see why and then we'll explain what they do:

  1. Fixes the leaves and stops their oxidation

  2. The tea begins to express its final aromas

  3. The leaves begin to dry

Here the leaves that oxidized in the previous steps are thrown into these ovens to begin drying and fixing the tea at 250-300°C for 8-14 minutes, then the leaves are gently massaged to later be places into another oven. and continue drying.

This process is repeated over and over again throughout the night until the final aromas start to come out. The aroma starts out very vegetal and pasty, but little by little it transforms into a floral and sweet spectrum. The masters taste the fresh tea from the oven to see if it is necessary to adjust the parameters...this is repeated for 8 hours!!!

Giving the characteristic shape to taiwanese wulong

After the sixth step, rolling + drying, we will be able to have a tea ready to be consumed. The next team begins its work between 8 and 9 am. This is a repetitive process that lasts well into the afternoon.

Let's check the step by step:

  1. The batch of tea is divided into bags of approx 36kg

  2. Each of these bags are places into the "Tofu Machine", which gently presses them, curling the leaves little by little

  3. The tea leaves are then unrolled in the "drum ovens" at medium temperature to continue drying them

  4. Steps 2 and 3 are repeated gently for several hours to take care of the integrity of the leaves

  5. Subsequently, 18kg bags are formed, which are shaped into large balls and pressed in the "Lotus Machine" (watch video above) to later enter them again in the drum oven. This is repeated several times

  6. The next step is not always done, but it consists of placing each 18kg bag into rollers to massage the leaves and achieve a more rounded and delicate shape

  7. Finally, the leaves pass through an oven to finish drying

  8. Each time these steps are completed, the flavor and aromas of the tea leaves evolve, so it has to be done very carefully

Then all that remains is for the leaves to cool down, filter them from the broken leaves that may have been generated during the process and vacuum pack them.

Thanks to the effort of many workers, tea masters, adequate climate conditions, fertile soils and healthy plants, it is that in 1 day and a half of hard and uninterrupted work we can enjoy the wonders of quality tea from Taiwan. It is a difficult art that requires a lot of experience to be successful.

We invite you to try our teas, they are all made with great dedication and delicacy, personally selected directly from the producer.

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