There are many realms of tea which venture into the purists versus … not purists. At Tour de Tea, we don’t consider ourselves thoroughly purists. Like most art forms, a future of diversity and innovation is reliant on pushing the boundaries of tradition. Tea has permuted and diversified infinitely throughout the centuries of its lifetime; we benefit from that every time we sit down to a cup.
At Tour de Tea, we relish in the magic of pure leaf tea and frequently have to restrain ourselves from adding traditional, ancient teas to our range. We also appreciate the wider public’s palate for flavoured teas and are continually refining our bespoke blends which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
There is a line out there for everybody – we found ours at Milky Oolong.

A Few Notes on Authentic Milky Oolong.

In the realm of tea history, Milk Oolong is in its infancy. The Milky Oolong/Milk Oolong cultivar of the Camellia sinensis was discovered and cultivated in 1980 by Taiwan’s Tea Research and Extension Station – a government agency focused on the research and development of tea. This Jin Xuan cultivar is a lightly oxidised green oolong with an inherent note of milk and cream occurring naturally within the leaf.
There are many Milky Oolongs on the market, and plenty of them are simply a flavoured tea – some even containing dairy products. If your enthusiasm for exploring tea lies within the ethos of appreciating the botany and ancient cultivation of this magical agriculture, flavoured milk oolong cannot connect you to that world. It is not authentic – it is simply a yummy, flavoured tea.

The line we draw isn’t so much purism as it is gentle disappointment in a misrepresentation which impacts the perception of true, authentic Milk Oolongs. It misleads the drinker.

If you really don’t mind – then there is nothing wrong with enjoying a yummy tea – we do it every day with our flavoured teas. However, true Taiwanese Milky Oolong – a tea which is emblematic of passion and devotion to tea innovation – has earned its title yet finds itself in competition, ensconced in a market of hundreds of teas who have hastily adopted its name and replicated its natural, subtle notes with artificial flavouring. These artificial teas trade on the hard work and success of this special cultivar whilst entitling themselves to its identity. To us, that seems a little sad, and not necessary when a different name (creamy oolong, dairy oolong, etc – they can have those) could still describe the tea without subsuming the identity of the original one.

How to Identify Authentic Milky Oolong Tea

True Milky Oolong should be from the Taiwanese Jin Xuan cultivar – however some flavoured oolongs still call themselves Jin Xuan as a name, so your scrutiny shouldn’t stop there. Check the ingredients. Some Milky Oolongs are simply a Chinese Oolong with flavouring, often dairy. That is not an authentic Milky Oolong.

Tour de Tea – Milky Oolong

As is our usual protocol, we spent months organising multiple samples of Milk Oolongs. We eventually sourced a true Taiwanese Milky Oolong with the intention to introduce customers to the magic of this pure leaf tea. Upon its anticipated arrival, we opened the packages and panicked. We could smell a note of milk – this is usually a sign of a scented or flavoured milk oolong. All of our teas are vegan and with dairy as an allergen, we were concerned we’d miscommunicated our intentions at some point, leading to the accidental procurement of a flavoured Taiwanese Oolong. We immediately got in touch with the producers and checked. We confirmed we had an enhanced, authentic Milky Oolong. The true Jin Xuan leaves had been meticulously processed to amplify the milk notes. We were satisfied with this answer and stocked it on our shelves. It was ridiculously delicious, however despite remembering how well it sat amongst all of the Milky Oolongs we’d tested, we wondered how much this enhanced yet authentic tea departed from its completely untouched, traditional roots in Taiwan.
Within a few weeks of it being on the shelf, we had a Taiwanese woman in the store with a few of her friends. She wandered to our shelf of premium teas and picked up the Milky Oolong – noting it was from the Nantou County where her family lived. She opened the jar, smelled it, and her eyes lit up – she ran to her friends, hastily stuffing the little jar under their noses saying “Smell it! This is my home! This is my home!” to each of them. At this point, we relinquished any concern we harboured regarding its authenticity, and think of her and her family every time we sit down to a cup.

Holding the Middle Ground – The Best of Both Worlds

As a result, our Milky Oolong gives our customers the opportunity to enjoy a creamy, tasty tea. As with all good quality oolongs, it offers multiple infusions – and while the tea throws out those strong enhanced notes for the first cup – every cup thereafter is simply a true Taiwanese milk oolong, to be savoured in its exquisite, creamy subtlety.
We hope that you enjoy it.