The Mystery of Pouchong

Spring Pouchong (Photo source: The English Tea Store)
Spring Pouchong (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

Maybe for some of you out there pouchongs hold no mystery. You know what they are, you have always been clear on the details, and you actually have no need to read this article and are about to leave this page.

I am not one of you. Or, at least, I did not used to be.

The first time I saw “Pouchong” listed on a tea menu, I more or less skirted over it. It was listed in the green teas and as I was making a beeline for Gyokuro, I was not really interested in trying a new green tea on that particular occasion. The second time I saw it on a tea menu, I also skirted over it but registered that it was listed under Oolongs. I paused, thinking that I remembered it being a green tea…but I supposed I was mistaken. On the third occasion I did not skirt over it; there it was, clear as day, listed as a green tea again. What was going on here?

I could be forgiven for being confused because pouchong is actually somewhere between green and oolong tea. It is sometimes described as a lightly fermented oolong (somewhat incorrectly, see here for why), and sometimes described as a green tea depending on the manufacturer or teashop. My favourite description that I’ve seen so far has to be “a very green oolong tea”—talk about hedging your bets!

Pouchongs are lightly oxidised at about 8-10%. This is in comparison to the heaviest oolongs being oxidised at about 85%. Strictly speaking, pouchong is an oolong because green tea (like white tea) is not oxidised, whereas oolong tea is semi-oxidised. So, although pouchong is only a step or two away from green tea, it is partially oxidised, which technically makes it an oolong.

Most pouchongs are produced in the Fujian province in China, or in Taiwan, but they are more often thought of as Taiwanese rather than Chinese teas. Their lightness means that pouchongs are often a choice for flavoured teas. Two of the most common are Rose Pouchong and Coconut Pouchong, the latter being a particular favourite of mine. I have never enjoyed another coconut-flavoured tea, but somehow the aroma of coconut goes perfectly with the fragrant, almost fruity taste of pouchong. Pure pouchong is also delicious—the mild, yet rich, taste holds its own against any of the stronger oolongs of which I am also fond. So whether pouchongs are listed as green teas or oolong teas, the bottom line is that they are absolutely delicious. I would recommend trying one if you haven’t already, especially as you’ll now be able to spout off facts about the tea as you enjoy it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to brew up a pot of Coconut Pouchong!

See more of Elise Nuding’s articles here.

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4 thoughts on “The Mystery of Pouchong

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