Four Seasons Red Oolong (四季春紅烏龍) is a highly oxidised oolong that hails from Zhu Shan Township (竹山鎮), known as Bamboo Mountain, in Nantou County, Taiwan. Crafted from the Four Seasons cultivar, it has a complex yet clean taste with satisfying fruity notes. This particular batch is from the September 2018 harvest.
Four Seasons Red Oolong is named after the cultivar that is used to make this expressive tea, Si Ji Chun (四季春), which translates as Four Seasons Spring and started appearing in Taiwan in the 1980’s. It favours low altitude conditions but also provides farmers with a consistent crop throughout the whole year. The leaves that are plucked from Si Ji Chun plants have a fresh and light flowery aroma year round, hence the English name often follows in full the Chinese name, rendered as Four Seasons Spring.
Unlike our classic lightly oxidised Four Seasons Oolong from Mingjian Township in Nantou County, this is a “red” oolong, meaning that it undergoes heavy oxidation at around 90%. This means that it falls into a category of oolong teas that treads a fine line between an oolong and a light black tea, much like our popular Moc Chau Red Buffalo Oolong from Vietnam. It is always difficult to classify such teas and to decide whether they should be included in black or oolong tea categories. However, since this particular tea is made from a cultivar that is normally used for oolongs and as it follows the method of production closer to an oolong tea, we felt it was more apt to classify it as an oolong. The addition of the “red” in the Four Seasons Red Oolong name serves as a marker of the high degree of oxidation and close proximity to a light black tea.
The leaves of this Four Seasons Red Oolong are hand-picked. The dry leaves are tightly rolled and when brewed, open up to produce a clear pale amber liquor with a sweet, stony aroma. The taste of this tea is clean and satisfying. There are lovely notes that are mineral, sweet, tangy and lightly floral. For us, the stand-out notes are those of red berries and honey. The aftertaste has more red berries on the aftertaste with a sweet and tangy character typical of raspberries. The tangy finish is clean and mouth watering. This is a very exciting tea that provides an amazing quality and taste for the price.
It is best brewed at 90°C for 3-4 minutes according to your taste and can be brewed multiple times, increasing steeping time with each next brew if desired.