How Alishan Oolong Tea Competitions Are Judged
Taiwan is also the home to tea competitions that makers from all over the island enter their best teas into. First prize at at the largest competitions goes for up to $10,000 USD for 600 grams. One of the most well known tea regions in Taiwan is the Alishan Mountain Range, and Alishan Tea Competitions recognize the best teas from the area.
Each tea competition in Taiwan is judged by slightly different criteria based on the type of tea produced in that region. What makes a good Merlot is different from what makes a good Shiraz, and you would not judge the two by the same criteria —the same goes for premium oolong tea.
Although the general criteria are the same from competition to competition—tea is judged by the dried leaves, aroma, appearance, and of course taste—in this article, we'll examine how an Alishan Oolong Tea competition is judged.
Let's dive in.
Basic Tea Judging Guidelines
Appearance of Dried Tea Leaves
- Uniform color
- Uniform size
- Uniform shape
- Yellow hues
- Non-uniform shape and size
Appearance of Brewed Tea Liquor
- Uneven color
Aroma of Brewed Tea Leaves
- Burnt or stale notes
- Too many stems
- Broken leaves
Appearance of Brewed Tea Leaves
- Uniform gradation from center (green) to red (edges) to show the partial oxidation of an Alishan Oolong.
- Suppleness (no hard or ridged texture)
- Too hard
Flavor: Taste of The Brewed Tea
ConclusionIf the tea meets the all the criteria described in this article, it represents that the tea was well-cultivated and processed with skill and care.
Having said this, know that competition standards are necessary to have an impartial assessment, but what makes a special tea is also subjective, and we have tasted incredible teas that don't fit the mold. There is a large spectrum of subtle differences that result from growing, harvesting, and processing conditions—many teas of extraordinary quality may not be suitable by competition standards. Differences can also be regional and cultivar based.
We encourage you to assess any given tea by your own experience as much as by these professional guidelines. In the end, tea should be enjoyed and enhance our lives via its health benefits, cultural richness, and infinite variety of character.
In short...if you like it, drink it!
What do you think? Is competition tea better than non? What's your favorite thing about tea? Aroma, appearance, flavor, or just the feeling you get when settling in with a good cup? Post your comments, photos and videos here or share with the community on Facebook or Instagram @ecochateas.
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Here's a list of the top 10 teas that Taiwan is most famous for, followed by a brief description of each one. The word Oolongrefers to any type of partially oxidized tea i.e. from 5% to 85% oxidation. It also refers to specific processing methods that clearly distinguish it from Green and Black Tea types.
Red Jade Tea - also known as Taiwan Tea No. 18, brews a rich, full-bodied tea with subtle hints of clove, cinnamon and mint in its complex composition.
GOURMET LOOSE-LEAF ICED TEA IN 3 EASY STEPS
- Brew your tea at a ratio of 1:40, loose-leaf tea : water (1:30 if unsweetened/unflavored). Boiling temp. water. Brew 7 minutes.
- Pour the brewed tea into a a cocktail shaker full of ice, add whatever flavoring, and shake.
- Pour the well shaken iced tea into glasses half-full of ice cubes.