Taiwanese Tea: History & More

Monday, 10 June 2019  |  The Tea Makers of London

Taiwan Teas: History & More

Taiwan is renowned for producing fine Oolong teas, due to its ideal climate and geographical conditions. 

At The Tea Makers, we are very lucky to source our oolong teas from the most revered tea gardens in Taiwan, such as Dong Ding and Hsinchu County.  All our rare Taiwan teas are reared by experienced Chefon farmers, who take great care in producing quality loose leaf oolong and black teas, capturing that true Taiwanese authentici-tea!

A Brief History of Taiwanese Tea

In the late 1500's, European sailors from Portugal set their eyes on beautiful Taiwan and named the island "Formosa" - which means "the beautiful"

Taiwan's tea cultivation really took flight when Taiwan became part of China during the early period of Qin Dynasty (1683). Due to civil unrest and rebellion at this time, Taiwan was viewed as a threat and Chinese migration was prohibited. However, many Han Chinese immigrants did manage to get to Taiwan; it is know that most of them were single men who, by right of their marriages to aboriginal women of the country, could travel in the mountains of Taiwan. This was where the Fujian farmers began to plant their homeland seed in their gardens and land; and how the small tea tree began to grow in this province and increase in popularity. The tea produced from these tea trees were for local consumption, and later, for trade.

It was not until the early 19th century that the tea trade started to thrive. Taiwanese settlers began importing more tea plants and oolong trees from the Wuyi Mountains and brought them to Dong Ding, in Taiwan. The tea trees here flourished in Taiwan's climate and were shortly named Dong Ding Oolong. 

After the Opium War (1839 - 42), China's restrictions on foreign trade subsided and was forced to open five ports to foreign trade. It was in 1860 that the Taiwan ports of Kaoshiung and Danushi opened. This was the beginning of establishing new industries in Taiwan. Later in that same year, a Scotsman, John Dodd (later to be known as pioneer of commercial tea production) saw the potential in Taiwan tea trade. He provided loans to farmers in north Taiwan to grow and produce more tea. In 1869, Dodd established his own company - Dodd & Co. After working closely with the farmers over the years, Dodd & Co began exporting Taiwan tea to the west, to countries like England and America, New York. The oolong tea (Formosan Oolong) was greatly received in America, and as demand increased, so did the prestige of Taiwan tea. This encouraged other exporters to take an interest in the Taiwan loose leaf tea; so much so, that in 1865 - 1885, tea exports grew from £180,000 to over £16 million!

Tea became Taiwan's primary export, by the end of the 19th century!

Since then, mainland China, Japanese investors and the British consumers have greatly influenced Taiwan's tea culture, curating an indulgent variety of black tea and their world-famous oolong teas.

Our Rare and Limited Range

Having tasted hundreds of teas over the years, our tea masters have assembled a selection of outstanding quality. This includes our superb range of rare black and Oolong loose leaf teas, grown by Formosan Farms family run, small-scale tea farms. These are nestled in the misty hills and sparkling lakes of Taiwan.


(Alishan Gaoshan wulong, 阿里山高山烏龍) is grown on the highest altitude of the mountain range, Mountain Ali, at the height of 1500m. From this harvest, only the most tender leaves have been hand-picked and dried; they have been given a gentle roll, to preserve the full leaf appearance. With buttery smooth and apricot notes, this Oolong has a strong, sweet aroma that is increasingly popular with tea lovers from all over the globe.

Ali Shan, Chiayi

Altitude: 1500M
Spring & Winter seasons
Ali Shan certified
Variety: Green-bud oolong
Fermentation: 15%


(Hongyu 日月潭紅玉)black tea is a testament for the superior quality of tea grown in the plush fields of Yuchi, nestled in Nantou, Formosa Island. This black tea has a rich, creamy flavour and a natural fragrance of cinnamon and mint that delicately balances the senses, as if you were delicately floating on the magical Sun Moon Lake itself.

Altitude: 600M
Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter seasons
Sun Moon Lake Black Tea certified

Pesticide/Herbicide/Chemical free
Variety: Taiwan, No.18
Fermentation: 100%


(Yuansheng shancha 台灣原生山茶) tea will transport you to the blissful, foggy hills in Nantou, in Taiwan. The High Mountain teas harvested in this region are considered the best quality in Taiwan; this is due to the high altitude the leaves grow in under the clouds, where least amount of sunlight can reach them. This authentic tea has a light floral and caramel flavour, perfect for those looking to revel in a superior tea.

Altitude: 600M
Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter seasons
Sun Moon Lake Black Tea certified
Pesticide/ Herbicide/ Chemical free
Variety:  Purple Bud
(180-year trees)
Fermentation: 100%


Supreme Oriental Beauty (頂級東方美人)  is quite a distinctive, premium tea. The beautifully shaped white tipped leaf is a testament to its carefully controlled oxidisation; this keeps the leaf whole and sweet flavour intact. This tea is grown at 200m altitude and imparts a sweet honey aroma.  The natural fruitiness of the leaves is worked by Mother Nature herself, with the help of leafhopper insects, you can read more about this in our Oriental Beauty: The Story blog.

Altitude: 200M
Spring season
Organic certified
Variety:  Chin Shin Dah Pan
Fermentation: 70%

Who are Formosan Farms?

Formosan Farms produce premium, single origin teas that are organically grown by family tea-farms in Formosa Island, Taiwan.

The sustainably grown teas are 100% pure, with no added chemicals or pesticides. The leaves are of high quality with choices of grade. The farms' sustainable ethos ensures the methods used in cultivation are eco-friendly with the environment in mind. Their stories are available to read on our tea product pages.

The farmers' love for their work is reflected in their teas, and we are very proud to launch our listed rare teas with them!


Shop our Rare & Limited Range 


The Tea Makers of London