Taiwan was formerly known as Formosa and is a small and mountainous island in the Pacific Ocean not far from the coast of China and north of the Philippines. Traditionally the island produced green teas for export to North Africa but with growing competition from Japan and China, the island started to concentrate on the semi-fermented Wulung (or Oolong) teas that are preferred by the local people.
The focus became more upon quality rather than quantity and as such Taiwan started the production of arguably some of the finest teas in the world. Oolong (taken from the Chinese words ‘black dragon’ referring to the fact that the tea is neither black nor green but somewhere in between) teas undergo a partial oxidation before being rolled and twisted. This means that the enzymes in the freshly picked leaf are exposed to oxygen for a period of time before the tea is fired to halt the process.