• Oolong Map

    Taiwan Origin Map

    Taiwan is home to numerous renowned tea regions, each with their own distinct microclimate characteristics. Notable among the tea origins of Taiwan are the high mountain tea regions, situated above 1,000 meters in elevation. Other tea areas, such as Rishi Tea's long-term partnership in Nantou, take on the county name as a descriptor.

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  • High Mountain Qingxin Variety Tea Garden in Shan Lin Xi

    High Mountain Qingxin Variety Tea Garden in Shan Lin Xi

    The high mountain tea gardens of Taiwan, such as this one at Shan Lin Xi, are situated over 1,000 meters where the tea plants are shrouded in clouds and mist. These microclimates inhibit the development of catechins in the tea plants resulting in smooth mouthfeel and rich umami when the tea is brewed. Here, the Qingxin tea plant variety is cultivated on steep slopes.

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  • Plucking High Mountain Tea in Shan Lin Xi

    Plucking High Mountain Tea in Shan Lin Xi

    Taiwan is known for expertise in cultivation and harvesting techniques. The tea harvesters seen here in Shan Lin Xi navigate the steep, terraced tea bushes and meticulously collect the fresh shoots.

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  • Expert Tea Pluckers Harvesting New Shoots

    Expert Tea Pluckers Harvesting New Shoots

    Shaded from the high-elevation sun and cool winds, the expert tea pluckers at this Shan Lin Xi tea garden are collecting the top sprouts on the tea bushes.

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  • Vibrant Green Shoots and Growth

    Vibrant Green Shoots and Growth

    The Qingxin variety tea bushes seen here have sprouted new buds and bright green young leaves.

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  • Expert Fresh Tealeaf Plucking and Collecting in Nantou

    Expert Fresh Tealeaf Plucking and Collecting in Nantou

    The expert tealeaf plucking and collecting team at this farm in Nantou, Taiwan is collecting their freshly picked crop together to bring to the factory for processing. The fresh tealeaves are transferred very gently from one basket to another, using handles on the bottom so as not to agitate them and induce unwanted oxidation prior to processing.

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  • Taiwanese Tealeaf Collecting Baskets

    Taiwanese Tealeaf Collecting Baskets

    Highly-skilled pluckers at Rishi Tea's partner farm in Nantou, Taiwan use these high quality baskets to collect fresh tealeaves during the harvest time. Notice the handles here on the bottom which allow the farmers to gently transfer fresh tealeaves without having to grab them by hand, which would bruise them and induce premature oxidation. The baskets are also breathable, ensuring the temperature inside the fresh tealeaf remains cool enough to prevent oxidation.

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  • Expert Soil Management in Mingjian Village

    Expert Soil Management in Mingjian Village

    Seen here is a young tea garden in Mingjian Village in Nantou, Taiwan. These young Wuyi variety tea bushes, only several years old, require a few more years of careful cultivation before they will be ready to harvest and process into future Rishi Teas such as Iron Goddess of Mercy (Tae Guan Yin).

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  • Tea Garden Talisman

    Tea Garden Talisman

    Akin to family spirit houses common throughout Southeast Asia, this talisman serves as a protector of the tea garden from evil spirits.

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  • Nurturing Yellow Bean

    Nurturing Yellow Bean

    The cultivation team at our partner farm in Taiwan spreads yellow bean, a plant related to the peanut, between rows of tea plants. The yellow bean breaks down and imparts beneficial, nurturing bacteria into the soil and helps the cultivation team manage soil moisture levels.

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  • Hands-on Tea Experience

    Hands-on Tea Experience

    Rishi Tea founder and tea buyer Joshua Kaiser working with our partner farm in Nantou, Taiwan. Here, they are checking the health of these tea plants that are nurtured by the nitrogen-fixing plants grown between the rows of tea bushes.

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  • A Healthy Soil

    A Healthy Soil

    A closer look at the plants used to help maintain a healthy soil at our partner farm in Nantou, Taiwan.

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  • A Healthy Soil

    A Healthy Soil

    The roots of these nitrogen-fixing plants also help retain an appropriate level of soil moisture.

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  • A Healthy Soil

    A Healthy Soil

    Here the rich, red soil is at the right moisture level.

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  • Experimental Organic Tea Farm in Nantou

    Experimental Organic Tea Farm in Nantou

    In Taiwan, certified organic tea farms are a rarity because the tea farms tend to be small in scale and the high costs of certification make it uneconomical to produce certified organic tea. Furthermore, tea farms are often surrounded by land in which fruits and other agricultural products are grown, and there is potential for fertilizer or pesticide residues to cross the borders. At our partner farm in Nantou, Taiwan, the cultivation team has employed several experimental techniques to cultivate their tea plants organically. Ladybugs, which are relatively harmless for the tea plants, are an indicator that chemical pesticides are not being used here.

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  • Light Trap

    Light Trap

    Our partners in Nantou, Taiwan are experimenting with this light trap as an eco-friendly alternative to chemical pesticides.

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  • Pheromone Trap

    Pheromone Trap

    This pheromone trap attracts insects and pests. Our partner tea farm in Nantou, Taiwan is experimenting with applications such as this pheromone trap as an eco-friendly way to reduce pests without the use of chemical pesticides that linger in the soil and have potential to pollute local water supply in runoff.

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  • Unpruned Tae Guan Yin Tea Bushes and Buffer Zone

    Unpruned Tae Guan Yin Tea Bushes and Buffer Zone

    Tea buyer Joshua Kaiser and Mr. Hsieh stand amongst young tea bushes that have been left unpruned. These plants in Taiwan need 3-6 years of unpruned growth before they are ready to be plucked and processed into Tae Guan Yin tea. Behind them is a buffer zone of tall trees and undergrowth that isolates this young tea plot from the experimental organic tea plot in the background.

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  • Hong Yue Buffer Zone

    Hong Yue Buffer Zone

    At this New Qingxin variety tea garden in Nantou, a row of Hong Yue variety tea trees serves as a natural barrier to isolate the tea garden. The deep roots of the mature Hong Yue trees filter the soil around the edges of the garden, and the taller branches and shoots filter the surrounding air currents, providing a safe haven for the New Qingxin tea plants.

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  • Nantou Pineapples

    Nantou Pineapples

    Besides first-rate tea plants, Nantou is also known for quality fruits, especially for varieties of pineapple. This pineapple variety is truly awesome, drier and more aromatic than most types. Other pineapple varieties in Nantou include miniature and Haiwaiian types.

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  • Heirloom Wu-Yi Tea Variety

    Heirloom Wu-Yi Tea Variety

    This heirloom Wu-Yi variety tea bush was left unpruned, and you can see its many seeds growing along the shoots. The deep emerald color tealeaves are significantly darker than Qingxin variety tealeaves grown nearby.

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  • Wu-Yi Variety Tealeaves

    Wu-Yi Variety Tealeaves

    Wu-Yi variety tea bushes represent one of the original varieties transplanted in Taiwan centuries ago from Wuyi Mountain area in Fujian. Depending on seasonal character, the Wu-Yi variety grown at Rishi Tea's partner farm in Nantou is used to make our Iron Goddess of Mercy (Tae Guan Yin) oolong tea, as it is suitable for medium oxidation and medium roasting.

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  • Hong Yue Variety Tealeaves

    Hong Yue Variety Tealeaves

    Hong Yue ("red jade" in Chinese) is a special tea tree cultivar created by cross-breeding a Burmese wild tea tree with a Taiwanese wild tea tree. The Burmese tea variety is related to the Irrawaddy sinensis plant. Skillful processing of Hong Yue variety tealeaves into black tea results in a full-bodied tea with distinctive aromas of clove, wintergreen, camphor, and red date.

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  • Winter Tea in the Roasting Room

    Winter Tea in the Roasting Room

    These winter oolong teas are undergoing a slow, moderate temperature roasting in bamboo baskets over controlled heat. Many teas undergo several closely-managed roastings.

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  • Mid-Roast Caffeine Clouds

    Mid-Roast Caffeine Clouds

    Here, Joshua Kaiser is examining the tealeaves as the roasting process is well underway. The haze in the room is actually caffeine being baked out of the tealeaves by pyrolysis. One or two minutes spent in the roasting room at this stage gives a quick caffeine rush.

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  • Caffeine Crystallite

    Caffeine Crystallite>

    Caffeine here is crystallizing out of the tealeaves by pyrolysis, and it is accumulating on the top edge of the roasters.

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  • "Farmer Style" Oolong Tea Cupping

    To cup Taiwanese oolong teas, it is customary to place 6-7 grams of tealeaves into a wide, shallow bowl that is clear-white in color. White porcelain spoons are used to evaluate the color of the infusion as the tealeaves unfurl in the wide bowl, and the spoons also allow tea buyers to evaluate the aromas as the tea liquor evaporates off of the spoon, releasing fragrances.

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  • Evaluating Taiwanese Oolong Tea Flavor

    When cupping Taiwanese oolong teas, skilled tasters pour small spoonfuls into white porcelain cups to evaluate the color of the infusion and taste the tea at different stages of its infusion. This allows tea buyers to evaluate the depth of aromatic quality and qi or "energy" of the tea.

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  • Evaluating Taiwanese Oolong Tea Aroma

    Evaluating Taiwanese Oolong Tea Aroma

    The white porcelain spoons used in cupping Taiwanese oolong teas capture the high floral and fruity aromas of the high mountain teas. Tea tasters evaluate the aromas of the tea by dipping the spoon into the infusion and amongst the tealeaves, then sniffing the spoon as the infusion evaporates off of the spoon. This is the most important step in evaluating high mountain Taiwanese oolong tea–even more important than tasting the tea, because it reveals the full aromatic profile.

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Taiwan is home to some of the world's most premier tea gardens, tea processing gongfu, and tea research institutions. A plethora of connoisseur-level oolong teas have originated in Taiwan since tea cultivation was introduced there in the late eighteenth century. These include famous teas such as Bai Hao, Baozhong, and High Mountain gaoshan cha types. In addition to those traditional Taiwanese oolong teas, other styles such as the rich, medium-oxidized amd medium-roasted Iron Goddess of Mercy (aka Tae Guan Yin) tea have been borrowed and integrated into Taiwanese cultivation. Rishi Tea's Ruby Black (Hong Yue Premium) tea, made from the special Hong Yue cultivar, is a unique gem in the world of black tea with an astonishing aromatic profile. Taiwan, with its central mountain ranges, offers many distinctive microclimates where tea is grown, traditionally in smaller garden plots than is seen in other tea origins. Taiwan is one of our favorite, and most seasonal tea origins.

Taiwan (Premium Tea Origin)

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