Moc Chau Red Buffalo Oolong is a unique and complex oolong tea that is grown in the north of Vietnam, in Mộc Châu district of Sơn La Province. It is grown at a high altitude of around 1,100m on a small tea estate that specialises in growing Taiwanese tea cultivars. This oolong is allowed to oxidise to around 70%, resulting in an intriguing cup of tea that has some of the black tea characteristics, while still retaining floral attributes of a light oolong. April 2019 harvest.
This Red Buffalo Oolong is hand processed from estate grown tea trees. The cultivar used to produce this tea is called Thanh Tam locally, but in reality it is the Qing Xin ‘Green Heart’ (青心) cultivar originally brought over from Taiwan. Both Vietnam and Thailand have successful plantations utilising some of the well-known Taiwanese tea plant cultivars and producing Taiwanese style teas. Most of these are exported to Taiwan or Japan. Some unscrupulous tea vendors will also sell Vietnam or Thailand grown tea as Taiwanese as some of them can be much cheaper to buy. While the benefits or disadvantages of Vietnamese and Thai teas over their Taiwanese counterparts is a lengthy discussion, needless to say that there are some fantastic examples of teas that can be found in any of the above countries. This Red Buffalo Oolong is certainly a unique creation that uses a classic cultivar in a somewhat more unusual way to create quite a characteristic and drinkable tea.
We also feature three other Qing Xin oolongs from the same producer in Moch Chau in our shop, which all differ in their processing. It is always a good idea to taste these side by side if possible to gain a better understanding of the way tea processing can completely change the flavour of the original leaf. Our Vietnamese oolong teas from the same producer, made from the same cultivar currently are:
- Moc Chau Green Heart – minimal oxidation and minimal roasting (rolled leaf);
- Moc Chau Three Moons – medium oxidation and medium lengthy roasting (rolled leaf);
- Moc Chau Red Buffalo – heavier oxidation and medium roasting (rolled leaf);
- Moc Chau Dragon Breath – heaviest oxidation and very heavy roasting (twisted strip leaf).
Qing Xin cultivar is particularly known for the floral aspects of teas that are made from it. As the Red Buffalo Oolong is much more heavily oxidised, the floral character becomes more of a secondary flavour, although still quite a prominent one. The oxidation does draw out a profile that is closer to a black tea, especially some of the very pleasant maltiness.
The dark leaves of this tea are tightly rolled – just as you would expect a rolled oolong in appearance – but much darker in colour and much closer to a black tea leaf in appearance. When the leaves are brewed, they slowly unfurl releasing a very pleasant and satisfying amber coloured liquor with a gentle malty aroma. The character is that of a light black tea, with smooth malty notes yet zero astringency. Overall this Red Buffalo Oolong is light, smooth and quite warming to drink. There are fruity sweet notes of raisins and wild honey that finish off this tea quite nicely.
We suggest brewing at 90°C for 2-3 minutes according to your taste. It can be brewed 3 or more times depending on your taste preferences. The flavour of this Red Buffalo Oolong tends to alter with each brew so make sure to brew the leaves multiple times to get the most out of this complex tea.
This Moc Chau Red Buffalo Oolong tea was first featured in our December 2016 Curious Tea Subscription Boxes.