What is Jin Xuan Oolong Tea?
Jin Xuan Oolong is a specific cultivar of oolong that was developed in Taiwan.
The Jin Xuan cultivar was developed in Taiwan by TRES, the government supported Tea Research and Extension Station. TRES researches and develops new strains of tea that are better suited to the local environment here in Taiwan. Jin Xuan was developed in the 1980s and is also known as Tai Cha #12 (台茶12號). Other popular and successful strains are #13 ( Tsui Yu) and #18 (Red Jade). Jin Xuan is a combination of the original Qing Xin Oolong strain and the naturally occurring wild tea plant in Taiwan. The Taiwanese wild tea plant is naturally suited to the climate an environment in Taiwan, while Qing Xin Oolong contains many of the prized flavors and properties found in Oolong Tea. The result is a plant that produces a larger leaf and more abundant yield.
Jin Xuan is grown mostly at lower elevations and in the Ali Shan region, but it can be grown all over Taiwan at any elevation. It is common to find lower elevation Jin Xuan as well as High Mountain Jin Xuan. Jin Xuan is most commonly prepared as a lightly oxidized, unroasted oolong tea. However, recently developed competitions in Nantou County have promoted the production of Jin Xuan in a more traditional fashion that emulates Dong Ding Oolong, meaning that it is more oxidized and roasted. In comparing it to wine, you can think of Jin Xuan a specific grape varietal, that can be grown anywhere, but is more commonly grown in certain regions.
Jin Xuan is known in Taiwan and in Chinese for its "奶香味“ or, "milky aroma". Due to the recent popularity of "Milk Oolong", some Jin Xuan will have had the milky flavor enhanced with artificially. If you drink a pure, loose-leaf tea with no additional added ingredients the aromas and flavors will be very subtle. The milky or buttery flavors in a high quality, pure loose-leaf Jin Xuan would be similar to the tasting notes in a wine or single malt scotch - very subtle.