Oriental Beauty: The Story
Wednesday, 27 February 2019 | The Tea Makers of London
Oriental Beauty: The Story
Oriental Beauty rests in a league of her own, being an exceptionally fine Taiwanese tea. Famous for its cultivation, Oriental Beauty (Dongfang meiren) has stunned Oolong lovers for centuries.
Legend has it, that this tea was in fact an accidental revelation! Years ago, a Taiwanese tea farmer's crops were spoiled by a leafhopper insect (Empoasca onukii) where they had bitten the tea leaves. Not wanting to waste the harvest, the farmer picked the leaves and later realised that the tea flavour had transformed to a smoother sweeter note. He was able to sell this rare tea for a high price as it was well received by the industry's top tea traders in the country, and soon after, the world.
So, what we taste in the tea is in fact the chemicals that the plant releases in response to the bug bites. This, along with its meticulously controlled oxidisation, is what makes the tea's flavour so striking and aromatic. The richer the honey flower tea aroma, the higher grade of tea it is - and the more expensive! Little damage made to the leaves helps reduce the bitterness of the tea whereas too much damage makes the tea even more bitter; that is why this process is highly supervised by experienced artisan tea farmers. This unusual method has been used over the centuries, making Oriental Beauty one of Taiwan’s most distinctive oolong teas.
Oriental Beauty is only grown and harvested in the summertime, when the leafhopper population is at its highest; so small quantities of the tea is available every year, making it a sought-after rarity.
The Right Way to Brew
As Oriental Beauty tea is lightly oxidised, like white tea, brewing differs slightly to that of other oolong teas. Brewing the leaves in boiling water could in fact harm and lose this tea's unique flavour. We recommend boiling the water temperature up to 80-90°; and steeping time, 3-4 minutes. In this time, the leaves should uncurl and give you an aromatic fresh experience, with subtle hints of sweetness that follows.
Our Oriental Beauty is also suitable for two re-steepings, but may we suggest to keep the wet leaves in a pot without water for the second serving, to avoid over brewing.
With this special tea, the best teapots to use are porcelain or glass - as using a clay pot could also take away the authenticity of the leaves. In our experience of brewing oolong tea, clay teapots are best used to enhance their full flavours. No traditional tea ceremony is complete without this authentic accompaniment!
The Tea Makers' Oriental Beauty
Our Oriental Beauty was harvested in 2018 by Chefon tea farmers. This harvest was reared in Hsinchu County, in Taiwan, and carefully picked from the 300m high mountain elevation. This ensures the leaves are of the best quality. They are twisted with silvery streaks, reminiscent of its Taiwanese traditional name, ‘Bai Hao’, which means white tipped.
The tea is known to aid digestion and strengthen the immune system.
Cultivar: Chinshin Dah Pan
Farmer: Mr. Chang
This rare white tip tea is a distinctive luxurious choice and we hope you enjoy her natural sweetness, with every pot and cup you make!
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