This is a rough-and-ready Mandarin pronunciation guide for Taiwanese and Chinese tea. The American English pronunciations use real words whenever possible, and hyphenated spellings are said with a continuous sound (she-ong = sheeyong). The pinyin includes tone marks which are an integral part of the pronunciation. Without the proper tones a native Mandarin speaker is not likely to understand these words.
For those who want to plunge right in, here is the list. A detailed explanation can be found at the bottom of this page.
|wu1 long2 cha2
|wu lung ch'a
|oo long cha
Oolong Tea (烏龍茶) audio pronunciation
|long2 feng4 xia2
|lung feng hsia
|long fung shee-a
Long Feng Xia (龍鳳峽) audio pronunciation
Wu Ling (武陵) audio pronunciation
|dong4 ding3 mi4 xiang1
|tung ting ming xiang
|dong ding mee she-ong
Dong Ding Ming Xiang (凍頂蜜香) audio pronunciation
|sha1 lin2 qi1
|sha lin ch'i
|shaw lean chee
Shan Ling Xi (杉林溪) audio pronunciation
|zhang1 shu4 hu2
|chang shu hu
|jong shoe who
|Zhong Shu Hu (樟樹湖) audio pronunciation
Tsuei Luan (翠巒) audio pronunciation
Shi Zuo (石棹) audio pronunciation
Four Season (四季) audio pronunciation
|chen2 nian2 lao3 cha2 wang2
|ch'en nien lao ch'a wang
|chen nee-ann l-how cha wong
Aged Tea (陳年老茶) audio pronunciation
Bai Hao (白毫) audio pronunciation
Bao Zhong (包種) audio pronunciation
|tie3 guan1 yin1
|t'ieh kuan yin
|tea-ay gwan yin
|shui3 jin1 gui1
|shui chin kui
|sh-way jeen g-way
|huang2 guan1 yin1
|huang kuan yin
|hwong gwan yin
|bai2 mu3 dan1
|pai mu tan
|buy moo dan
|high and level
|rising from mid-pitch to the level of tone 1
|falling and rising
|similar to the 'ah' of 'hah'
|a Mandarin 'a' followed by 'ng'
|similar to the 'er' of 'her'
|a Mandarin 'e' followed by 'ng'
|similar to the 'ee' of 'bee'
|a Mandarin 'e' with the tongue curled back
|similar to 'or'
|similar to the 'un' of 'fun'
|similar to the 'u' of 'flute'
|similar to the 'ei' of 'weigh'
|similar to the 'ai' of 'aisle'
|similar to the 'ou' of 'dough'
|similar to the 'au' of 'sauerkraut'
|similar to a short 'yeah'
|similar to the 'an' of 'ban'
|as in the French 'u' of 'la lune'
|m, f, ch, sh
|same as English
|as in the 'ch' of 'cheese' - tongue tip is held down
|b, d, n, g, s, w, y
|similar to English
|as in the 'sh' of 'ship' - tongue tip is held down
|p, t, k
|similar to English but with more aspiration
|as in the 'j' of 'jam' - tongue is curled back
|similar to the 'l' in 'health'
|as in 's' of 'pleasure'
|similar to English but slightly guttural
|as in the 'ds' of 'woods'
|as in the 'j' of 'jungle' - tongue tip is held down
|as in the 'ts' of 'hurts'
There are several systems of Romanization for Chinese characters. The two most common are Pinyin (the official Romanization of Mainland China) and Wade-Giles. Taiwan uses a modified Wade-Giles system that does not include apostrophes. So instead of T'aipei the capital of Taiwan is written Taipei.
What difference does an apostrophe make? In the Wade-Giles system, a 't' without an apostrophe should be pronounced as 'd', and a 'p' without an apostrophe should be pronounced 'b', and a 'k' without an apostrophe should be pronounced 'g'.
This creates all sorts of confusion for western speakers. For many years Wade-Giles was the standard for converting Chinese characters to western spellings, so we had such spellings as Peking for Beijing, taoism for daoism and tofu for dofu.
This confusion extends to the world of tea. Neither Pinyin nor Wade-Giles reflects the popular spelling Oolong. This particular spelling is not found in any of the common Romanization systems, so is probably a simple popularization (like chow mein).
In an ideal world there would be just one system of Romanization that is applied universally. Unfortunately, Romanization has become a political issue in Taiwan because legislators are reluctant to adopt Mainland Chinese standards. It could also be argued that the use of Wade-Giles upholds tradition since it has a much longer history than Hanyu Pinyin.
Talk of traditional Romanization is trivial, however, compared with the much more important topic of maintaining the Chinese written language. Taiwan continues to use traditional Chinese characters whereas Mainland China has switched to a simplified writing system. These simplified characters have fewer strokes than their traditional counterparts and were developed to promote literacy. Many overseas Chinese have expressed concern that the rich heritage of the Chinese language is compromised with this simpler writing system.