Imperial Formosa

Imperial Formosa

If you want to feel like royalty, just drink the “royal” tea — Imperial Formosa Oolong from Golden Moon Tea. There was a popular series of commercials when I was a kid for a particular brand of margarine. One bite and a crown would appear on your head. I feel like that when drinking this tea. One sip and — voilà! — I feel like a queen!

Actually, “Imperial” doesn’t refer to a member of some aristocracy; it means this is the best quality oolong. “Formosa” means this tea comes from Taiwan, formerly called Formosa (just as Ceylon tea comes from Sri Lanka, which was formerly Ceylon). “Oolong” indicates a tea that has been fermented only about half as long as a black tea; the word comes from the name of the man who, centuries ago, had a happy accident one day while processing his tea. The legend is that Wu Liang interrupted the drying of his tea leaves to hunt a deer and prepare it. He came back to his tea and saw it was darker than usual. He finished the processing anyway and tried some. The taste was different, yet pleasant, from any he had drunk. The tea soon became popular with his neighbors and eventually most of the tea-drinking world.

According to the can label, Golden Moon’s Imperial Formosa Oolong contains the “fanciest” (biggest and most perfectly formed) silver-tipped tea leaves, has an “extraordinary fragrance” (I find it both subtle and planty), and a “nectary amber liquor.” Your palate and nose will be greeted by a bouquet of “orange blossoms and chestnuts” (a great combo) with “gentle hints of dates and musky cedar.”

Some oolong drinkers I know consider this one of the teas that needs no enhancing, including sweeteners (in fact, they are rather adamant on the subject). I have to agree. Milk and sweetener are great for chais, Lapsang Souchong, Assams, and other black teas, even some Darjeelings, and sweetener or lemon helps out many green teas. But Imperial Formosa Oolong needs nothing coming between you and the tea’s taste. It dances on your tongue without a trace of the bitterness.

Besides this wonderful taste and aroma, Imperial Formosa Oolong (as well as other oolongs) are good for your health, with lots of anti-oxidants, only partially affected by the shorter fermentation process. Their level of polyphenols is higher, also, helping prevent heart disease and various cancers. Recent research also shows that tea drinking can prolong your life and make it relatively illness-free. Don’t forget the higher metabolic rate and oxidation of fat from drinking oolong. Even the caffeine in this tea is far less of an issue for you than other caffeinated beverages that raise the heart rate and cause “the jitters.”

A lot of these beneficial properties are due to how the tea leaves are processed, not just the shorter fermentation time. First, the leaves, plucked during the early hours of the day, are withered (dried) in the sun and bruised lightly, causing fermentation to begin. By carefully watching and shaking or tumbling the leaves often, tea artisans can tell when the right proportion of green and red leaves has been reached. They end fermentation at the right moment, dry the leaves with charcoal, and grade them by quality before sending off for packaging.

Jon Stout and Marcus Stout of Golden Moon Tea recommend that you enjoy their Imperial Formosa Oolong with ancient poetry. I, for one, think that some modern poetry would also be a great accompaniment, especially if you write it yourself. Of course, my hubby playing his musical compositions on the piano between tea sips also works. Find your own tea moment activity to enhance the taste of whatever tea your drinking. Enjoy!

See my review of this tea on Little Yellow Teapot Tea Reviews.