Topic: The bud on oolong teas
I have noticed with many Taiwan oolong teas, the leaves are left on the stem and you often find a set of 2 or 3 leaves and a bud.
With Anxi oolongs the leaves are never left on the stems by the time it reaches the drinker.
Why is this?
One theory I had was that Taiwan oolong is generally made with younger leaves. I have noticed that the stems from anxi TGY are often much thicker than those found in most Taiwan oolongs. When my friend taught me how to de-stem TGY, he said that the stems generally hold more moisture than the leaves, because they are thicker and don't dry off as much in the final roasting. For this reason it is important to get rid of the stems, otherwise the moisture content will leach into the leaves eventually making them sour.
When sorting TGY we also made sure not to include any of the buds or tips as they would make the tea astringent. We also discarded many of the lighter coloured leaves. These are called 黄片 huangpian/yellow leaves and they make the TGY more fragrant, but too many will take away from the flavour of the soup as well as make it more astringent.
Can anyone tell me about sorting Taiwanese teas? do you discard huangpian? are Taiwan teas not sorted as carefully on purpose, or is labour just too expensive? Are some of the thicker stems discarded, or are all the Taiwan oolong stems thin and tender?