Siam Tea Blog

Jin Xuan Hoarfrost Oolong Tea (Winter Tea) – the exception from the rule

Jin Xuan winter oolong tea from Doi Mae Salong

At times, it seems to be quite difficult with the knowledge about tea. You’ve just learnt and understood a thing, and then the next thing you learn is that it isn’t always true. Exceptions prove the rule, they say, but with tea it is often just like with the German language, where the exception rather is the rule.

Digging deeper into the rules of tea cultivation, you will soon learn that the tea plant is usually harvested several times a year. This applies to most teas, with exceptions such us the Oriental Beauty, which can be harvested only once a year. The annual harvesting cycle normally starts in March/April with the year’s first harvest, the so-called spring harvest, which is considered as the year’s best harvest for most teas. The annual cycle usually comprises three more harvests, two of these beeing summer harvests and another one being plucked in autumn. During winter, the tea bush and/or tree will drive no shoots and collect active substances and taste agents for the next spring harvest. So far the rule…

Jin Xuan winter tea Hoarfrost oolong from Doi Mae Salong, wet leaves
… and now here’s to the exception: some tea varieties, with the Jin Xuan Oolong No. 12 among these, will produce another harvest, a winter harvest collected in December/January, standing out with a special aroma and extraordinary taste. Not that this winter tea would completely fall out of the picture of the Jin Xuan Oolong tea. For example, the wonderfully sweet, long lingering resonance of the taste in mouth and throat remains maintained nearly unchanged. However, the initial taste experience of the Jin Xuan winter harvest clearly differs from that of the normal harvest cyle’s teas. So, for example, the earthy and grassy basic note is complemented by a malty touch imparting the typical special character to this teas of this harvest. Also, the “Hoarfrost Oolong”, positioned in the medium range of the fermentation scale, shows clearly less bitters than the teas of the regular harvests.

Yount tips of Jin Xuan No. 12 Taiwan tea cultivar in February, north ThailandAiteeops

This tea owes its name ‘Hoarfrost Oolong’ to the rime that falls on the tea gardens duting the winter months and on particularly cool days covers them with  a gently touch of white in the early morning hours. Young shoots, as are typical for the spring, summer and autumn harvests of this and other Oolong teas, will hardly be found among the leaves of this type of tea. Still, only few tippies (tops of branches with the youngest leaves respectively) will suffice the requirements of a high quality Jin Xuan winter tea, thus making the winter harvest a more-than-usual effort and causing it to produce rather low volumes of tea leaf. This is also the reason, why the price for a high grade Hoarfrost Oolong is considerably above that of the teas plucked during the regular harvest cycle.

Jin Xuan winter harvest hoarfrost Oolong tea prepared in Chinese Gong Fu Cha tea ceremony

However, we find that the higher cost are more than worth it, and that every friend of Oolong teas should try this tea once. The first time might not be the last time, though, as the unique aroma and taste of this type of tea, coined by the early morning hoarfrost, will leave an inextinguishable mark in each tea lovers memory, and ensure that the desire to possess and drink this tea will time and again resurface in our minds. At least, so tells my story with the Jin Xuan Hoarfrost Oolong winter tea: it very quickly conquered its place among my favorite teas, so that by now I have come to save a good storage of it for myself every winter, which might just as well last until the next winter harvest, though in practice, it hardly ever does that.

Jin Xuan Hoarfrost Oolong winter tea, Doi Mae Salong, north Thailand: color of liquor

Now watch how our friend Tommy prepares Jin Xuan Hoarfrost Oolong winter harvest in his own private Gong Fu Cha tea ceremony at home. Thank you so much, Tommy, for taking this very fine video footage and making it available to us!


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Like this video? We have taken a wonderful video depticting the entire process of the becoming of our DMS Jin Xuan Oolong from the harvest via the individual drying and processing steps unto the ready rolled tea leaves in wonderful moving pictures. You can watch this video here.

You can buy DMS Jin Xuan Hoarfrost Oolong winter tea (winter harvest) at Siam Tea Shop:

To just try Jin Xuan Hoarfrost Oolong tea once, simply put it into our SiamTeas Sample Box ‘Your Selection’.

SiamTeas Sample Box ‘Your Seleciton’ at Siam Tea Shop

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