Literally translates to “Buddha’s Hand”. The name is earned from the appearance of its tea leaves, which resemble the leaves of a Buddha’s hand fruit tree. The large leaves have distinct veins, like palm lines of one’s hand. This style is sometimes called bergamot oolong, referencing a slight resemblance of its aroma to bergamot, although it is not scented with bergamot oil like Earl Grey tea.
It was first introduced in the Chinese Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127 AD) by a Zen Master, to Yongchun, a county in the Fujian Province in China. The western part of Yongchun is bordered to the south by Anxi county, a key region in oolong tea production. The origin of Fo Shou tea cultivar is a mystery. Many people say it was obtained by engrafting tea tree with Fo Shou (bergamot) tree. The engrafting theory of Fo Shou oolong has never been proved. But the characteristics of this tea do remind a drinker of fragrance of Fo Shou fruits.
One of the most distinctive characteristics this tea bush varietal showcases is its impressively large greenish-blue leaves. Even after processing and infusing the leaves, it is not uncommon to find them average 4–6” in length (and sometimes even longer). For this reason, it is sometimes said that the leaves of this tea are ” are as long as the Buddha’s hand.” Unfortunately, it has become increasingly difficult to find this tea crafted in accordance with the traditional methods. Too often it is lightly oxidized, resembling some high-mountain oolongs, and this inferior crafting erases some of the nuances and complexity this tea has to offer.