1980s Tea

During the 1980s, Puerh and Oolong tea production underwent distinctive changes. After the Cultural Revolution, many tea farms halted or focused on mass production, leading to reduced quality in the early to mid-1970s, except for limited Puerh cakes and Heicha products. However, from the late ’70s to the ’80s, tea farms revived and emphasized higher quality for export, including Tongxing Puerh, Gongting Puerh, and Baizhen Jinlian Puerh. This period witnessed a spike in premium Puerh production, transitioning to mass appeal and high-end products by the 1990s.

Across the Taiwan Strait, farmers produced and stored higher-end Oolongs after the 1987 White Terror movement, leading to an Oolong revival in production and culture. There was an expectation of the Chinese market opening up for exports. These Oolongs were mainly roasted or medium to heavily oxidized, crafted by farmers who had fled the mainland during the revolution or settled in Taiwan after the Chinese Civil War. Consequently, Aged Oolongs from the 1980s are widespread in teashops.

The selections below capture the historical significance of these events. The 1980s marked a turning point in tea production in China and Taiwan, and the showcased products reflect this crucial era.