Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea [3rd Plum Grade]
Our Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea from a small 4 hectare family farm in Miaoli, Western Taiwan is an intense, complex tea with a sweet honey after taste.
In more depth...
Tea Name : Oriental Beauty 3rd plum
Tea Maker : Li-Min-Tseng
Origin : Miaoli Taiwan at an altitude of around 200–400 metres
Size : 4 hectares
Harvest Time : June 2019
Cultivar : Chin Shin Dah Pan
Plucking standard : One big bud & two leaves [this tea is 3rd Plum grade [see below]
Experience : The chemistry of this tea means that the dry leaf is a beautiful mixture of gold, green, brown and black and silvery white. Once brewed the liquor is a light, amber yellow and has a bright, sweet, flowery smell. The flavour is intense yet smooth, honey-sweet with some fruity elements. This lasts for many infusions.
Oriental Beauty is best enjoyed on its own so that its delicate flavour can be savoured untainted.
How to prepare tea [Gong Fu Style]
Amount of tea per serving (200 ml): Fill 1/5 - 1/3 full of tea leaves
Temperature of water: 80℃ / 176℉ (boil kettle, cool for 20-30 seconds)
Infusion time: Firstly fill vessel to the brim and immediately discard water. Then infuse for 45 seconds - 1 minute (or as desired) Then 20 seconds for each further infusion.
Number of infusions: 4
How to enjoy: No milk, no sugar
How to prepare tea [Western Teapot]
Amount of tea per serving (200 ml): 5g (1 tea caddy spoon / 2 teaspoons)
Temperature of water: 90℃ / 194℉ (boil kettle, cool for 20 seconds)
Infusion time: 3 minutes (or as desired). Then 1 minute.
Number of infusions: 3
How to enjoy: Best with no milk, no sugar
In more depth...
For Interest : Also known as Dong Fang Mei Ren or Bai Hao, this tea has a special story behind it. The uniques flavour it possesses relies upon the attack of an insect called a Green Leaf Hopper or Jassid, a small cricket. This minute insect nibbles the edges of the leaves causing the plant to release an enzyme to defend against further attack. When processed this natural chemical provides the incredible flavour.
Tales of the Tea Trade : Oriental Beauty
Rob : Extract from our our book Tales of the tea trade :
Jojo comes from a family with four generations of tea farmers who operate an example of the vertically integrated system [see our book for more details]. They own and farm the land, process the leaves in their small factory and sell the final product direct. The farm today produces Oriental Beauty, a tea whose unique taste is dependent on the leaves of the tea bushes being bitten by a small insect, the green leaf hopper. When the bug sucks the leaf sap the plant produces
a chemical to repel it. This combined with the bite, which starts oxidation, results in a unique ‘honeyed’ taste when the leaves are processed. This bug is prevalent in the Miaoli and Hshin Chu counties, so this is where the producers are.
Jojo: ‘I have been around tea since I was tiny. My sister, brother and I used to go up to the same tea fields you see today to help. It was my sister who started me in my work in tea. She is a certified tea master and has been learning about tea from a very early age. She told me I should sell the tea she had decided to make: Oriental Beauty. This is what I do and love today – selling the tea my sister makes'
‘My grandfather decided to make Oriental Beauty when it started to become more popular around 20 years ago. Our land and plants are good for it and it has a good history in the area. The altitude of around 200–400 metres means there are many hoppers, so it is natural to use them. In Miaoli it is the skill of tea masters that makes the biggest di erence. We have a unique climate and environment, which makes it the perfect place for hoppers to live, but the flavours come from the process. Apart from our neighbour Hsinchu, the conditions are not the same anywhere else in Taiwan. We have more flowery, red fruit and honey layers in the tea, mostly honey flavours.
‘Producing Oriental Beauty is not easy, though – managing the land is the hardest bit. We are organic, which means there is a lot of work to do. To keep the quality of the plants we use organic fertilizer, which we make ourselves and which costs lots of money, so we have to hope the crop is good. We cannot use any chemicals as this would kill the hoppers, so no pesticides or herbicides. We also have to weed by hand. If the elds are not kept in a good condition the hoppers will leave and go to another garden. They live there all year long, so there is no break. They like wet, but not too hot, conditions, and that is why our garden has lots of trees around it'
Carefully sorting and processing is key, especially for teas that will be entered into the annual Miaoli Oriental Beauty competition. This competition is a way for the market to control prices and promote quality. Teas are entered in 10-jin boxes containing 40 tins; a jin is equal to 600 grams. Judging is done anonymously by three judges who are Tea Research Institute leaders. Grades range from 1, 2 or 3 plum flowers, up to third, second and first prizes, and the grand prize. Plum flowers are used because it is Taiwan’s national flower. Gaining a grading increases the value of a producer’s tea, sometimes by a considerable amount. This can often attract businesses who buy tea from a farmer to enter the competition with the hope of being placed, gaining a reputation and building on their investment.
Jojo’s family sets themselves the personal challenge of winning the grand prize every year. There are many hurdles along the way: ‘The biggest challenge is nding enough pickers. The average age of our pickers is 80 years old. They love to work as they are otherwise not doing much and they like the money, but we need to start training up new pickers. The older pickers won’t stop until they have to, so in order not to offend them we’ll probably have two picking teams for the moment.’
What advice does Jojo have for us tea drinkers? ‘Taiwanese tea is fresh and tastes amazing, but to get more enjoyment your customers should try to understand the drinking culture and appreciate that tea is made with both hands and heart. Tea is also far better when enjoyed with friends