True or False – Gingshen Oolong

人參烏龍茶

The so-called “Gngshen Oolong”

Information found on the internet said Gingsheng Oolong was invented in Taiwan by using the best quality of high mountain oolong blended with the American gingsheng.  So what is Gingshen Oolong?

First of all, Ginseng Oolong has another name in Chinese which is known as “Lan Gui Ren”(蘭貴人).  From different web site on google, it seemed they all claim it is an ‘unique’ oolong using the good quality high mountain oolong from Taiwan and blending with American Gingshen. The information that I could read in Chinese has further woke my curiosity up:

歷史:蘭貴人是中國歷代宮廷供茶, 是五百年前專給皇帝喝的貢品, 有幾千年的歷史。 據《本草拾遺》中記:“生西國, 胡人將來也, 味甘溫無毒, 主明目強記, 補心力。 ”

But several points from this text are very questionable:

  • Lan Gui Ren was a tribute exclusively for Emperor 500 years ago and has few thousand years of history?

Even though the Dutch captain wrote in the De Dagregisters van het Kasteel Zeelandia (1629-1662) that they have discovered wild tea trees on Taiwan island but they also wrote it’s in the territory of local aboriginal where considered very dangous zone.  So there was no any documents or proof that the local aboringinals knew how to produce tea and presented tributes to Emperor in China, until massive Chinese migrants from China to Taiwan in the 17th century, then the Chinese migrants started to cultivate tea trees and produced tea in Taiwan. So how did they manage the calculation of 500 years to give tribute to the Emperor?

  •  Few thousands of years?  Did they mean the tea in Chinese history or Lan Gui Ren in Chinese tea history?  How did they manage the calculation of few thousands of year when 500 is also not correct?
  • Another thing, on the Ben Cao Shi Yi, it wrote “It’s from the West”, but Taiwan is not on the West to China.
  • After checking on line repeatedly and going through the text that they referred from the Chinese Medicinal Book – Ben Cao Shi Yi , first I can’t find any writing about Lan Gui Ren and I can only discover the exact written text for Reineckia carnea (吉祥草) which can be found in China, including Anhui.  This information actually confirmed my personal experience during the trip to Anhui in 2009.

Oolong is an unique tea category because of its special tea tree cultivars, producing techniques, flavour and taste. Indeed these days there are aromatic oolong tea sold in the market for years i.e. milky oolong; and it is quite normal that many tea traders like to tell fancy stories to increase the attraction to their teas. However, it is unthinkable to blend good quality high mountain oolong from Taiwan or China (which the rolling was so bad) with Gingshen.

Another question is, Ginseng is a very expensive Chinese medicinal ingredient, however starting from the earliest Chinese medicinal books and doctors have suggested not to serve medicine with tea which has also confirmed the western medical researches so what kind of impact to our health with the Gingshen with tea made from Camellia sinensis?

So here are three questions of true or false:

  1. Is Lan Gui Ren an Oolong tea? The chance for being a false oolong is very likely.
  2. Is Lan Gui Ren an infusion tea? Really don’t know unless we know precisely which leaves they actually use as the tea base.
  3. Is there real Gingshen being used? Really don’t know, because there are other Chinese herbs could have almost 80% ingredients found in Gingshen, the cost is lot cheaper and the taste is quite similar with the similar medicinal effects.

Sometimes I play with the blending, but for me, everything should be clearly visible and honest.

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