Known under many names, being British we use the name Oriental Beauty because on tasting the tea (or so the story goes) the Queen compared its shiny steeped leaves to a “beautiful oriental lady.”
Oriental Beauty is different to other oolongs because it is harvested in the summer and is highly oxidized (about 75%). This very special Oriental Beauty, which traditionally originates from Hsinchu in Taiwan comes from the beautiful Pangolin tea garden in the Wenshan hills, just outside Taipei. Made by 8th generation tea farmer Lin Dao Xian and using the cultivar Jin Xuan, the leaves used to make this tea have been carefully selected to make sure they have been bug-bitten, which is what needs to happen to get the special and unique Oriental Beauty taste: Just like a second flush Darjeeling, tiny ‘leaf hoppers’ (Jacobiasca Formosana) are allowed to chew on the leaf edges while still on the bushes just before harvest. This triggers the plant’s defences, creating a natural oxidization and provoking their flavours. Oriental Beauty has a refreshing and deliciously sweet honey characteristic that is often compared with teas from Darjeeling.
It is very difficult to find good, organic Oriental Beauty Oolong. This tea is a result of a cooperation with the environmental and social project “Blue Magpie Tea”, and comes from the same farmer who makes our Pouchong. Although it might seem expensive at first glance, this Oriental Beauty is exceptionally good value for the amazing quality and is ideal if you are just starting out with high-end, strip-style, more heavily oxidised oolongs.
While this tea can of course be prepared “western style” in a teapot using ca. 6 g tea for 500 ml of water and making 1 – 4 infusions of 2 – 3 minutes each, we strongly recommend trying it gong fu style so that you can fully appreciate how the tightly rolled leaves unfold to reveal their beautiful scent and complex flavour notes. If you do this, use the same amount of tea (ca. 6 g) for 120 ml of water, make a first infusion of 15 – 20 seconds, then add 5 seconds for each subsequent infusion. This should allow you to make approximately 5 – 6 infusions during which you will experience how the aroma and flavours develop with each steeping.