Champion Tea Tasting


The most educational and privileged event at the Nantou County Global Tea Expo, in my experience - is the opportunity to taste award winning teas from all over Taiwan. For an entrance fee of US$3.30, you can participate in a cupping of 10 of this year’s Champion Spring Teas in Taiwan. Ten participants per cupping are invited to smell the brewed leaves and taste the brewed tea through two rounds of the table. The cuppings follow the standard tea judging methods of 3g of tea leaves in a 50 ml cup brewed for 6 minutes with near-boiling temperature water. The brewed leaves and tea are then allowed to cool for about 6 minutes before sampling.

The cupping is hosted by a certified tea judge who leads the group through the brewing, smelling of the brewed leaves, and tea tasting experience. The host introduces the tea types that span the spectrum of specialty teas produced in Taiwan from green to black, yet mostly comprised of variations of oolongs. Basic explanations of the tea types are given along with the judging process that is conducted in the competitions. 

The first cupping we attended this year started with a green Bi Luo Qun from Ping Lin, Taipei followed by an unroasted, minimally oxidized High Mountain Oolong from Ren Ai Township in Nantou. Step by step we moved through the gradients of oolong teas, finishing with a heavily oxidized Oriental Beauty Oolong from Xin Zhu. 

More types of Champion Spring Teas can be experienced by attending other cuppings. There are 18 types of tea, almost all champion, with a few 2nd place prize winners of local competitions from all over Taiwan, offered at this event. So in order to make the best of this unique opportunity, we will attend at least a few more cuppings of this year’s champion spring teas before the event closes on October 27.

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4 Responses


November 10, 2013


Interesting questions and reflections, thanks for posting them.
As for the tastings, outside of the Nantou County Global Tea Expo – I haven’t had the opportunity to taste 10 different types of champion prize winning teas before – so it is mostly the side-by-side comparison factor that I find most informative and interesting. As for the teas and their origins, they are all teas that are produced in a significant enough quantity and quality to warrant a competition to be held for them, although the number of entries on some types is quite small. For Oriental Beauty and Tie Guan Yin there are probably less than 200 entries per competition. Their quality, reputation and history in the tea industry in Taiwan makes these teas well-known domestically however.

Are there other types of teas in Taiwan that are descendents of mainland China strains? The answer is yes, and in some cases there is a recent revived interest in the cultivation of mainland strains – such as Wu Yi Oolong and Tie Guan Yin Oolong. Two farmers that I currently source from have planted these strains of tea within the last 3 years, and I witnessed the first harvest of the Tie Guan Yin crop being processed in a factory in Lu Gu just last week. I very much look forward to sampling it after being roasted by an elderly tea master. I was told that the crop is reserved for a customer that requested the planting of this strain – but hopefully I’ll at least get to taste it!

The amount of these heirloom teas being produced is still very small, but they do exist. Another one that comes to mind is Shui Xan Black Tea that is still produced in the north of Taiwan on older, small family run farms.
Given that these types are rare and produced on a small scale using traditional methods, I am inspired to to pursue the sourcing of these teas when the opportunity arises.

In tea,


October 30, 2013

When you go to these tastings from all over Taiwan does it change the way you buy or want to buy tea? With sooo many areas offering sooo many different types how do you chose? How can you say “this is enough”?
For instance…I didn’t know that here was Bi Lo Qun being grown and made in Taiwan. …and then there is the connoisseur-ship around just that tea.
….must be endless
How many other “typically mainland” teas are in Taiwan too.
Such as Wu Yi, Pu erh, Pheonix Mtn twisted style darker oolongs, Dragon well, etc.
Or, for all I know, that’s where they started long ago….;)?
I want to try them all.
larviticous tea drunkedness


October 21, 2013

Hey Ben – thanks for writing. Yes, we ship internationally so we can get you tea anywhere in the world!
If your boss is a green tea lover I recommend trying our
Tsui Yu Oolong:
Organic High Mountain Oolong:

These teas are both very light on the oxidation scale, making them ‘greener’ Oolongs. They are both excellent introductions to Oolong for green tea fans.

Ben Bartlett
Ben Bartlett

October 13, 2013

Must have been some great tea! My boss loves green tea and I’d like to send him some. Can your tea be shipped to North America?

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