Mi Xiang Wu Yi Heritage Oolong (蜜香武夷烏龍茶) is an unusual tea from Mingjian Township of Nantou County, located in central Taiwan. This tea is crafted from a Wu Yi cultivar that was originally bright to Taiwan from Wu Yi Shan in Mainland China. This particular batch has a lovely ‘Mi Xiang’ (honey aroma) due to the leaves of the plants being nibbled by little green leaf hoppers during growth. The leaves of this tea were handpicked in November 2020 at a garden located at an altitude of around 400m. After harvest, this tea was finished by our Tea Master by extensive baking. This batch was baked twice, with the bakes lasting over 12 hours each. This is a one-off batch, so limited quantity available and once sold out we are unlikely to restock.
Our Mi Xiang Wu Yi Heritage Oolong is carefully crafted by Mr. Ji from plants that are descendants of a Wu Yi cultivar (referred to as Wu Yi Zhong, 武夷種). It was brought to Taiwan over 100 years ago from Wu Yi Shan where it is used for producing both oolong and black teas. With the subsequent Japanese rule over Taiwan, the tea landscape was much altered and a lot of the traditional cultivars that were brought from China were lost or simply replaced. The reinvigoration of the Taiwanese tea industry in the last century also meant that new cultivars were developed locally and have supplanted some of the older varieties. So it is not very common to see a cultivar such as this being used in Taiwanese tea production. While the cultivar originated from Wu Yi Shan, of course it has since undergone natural changes that make it unique and different in its own right. However you cannot escape noticing some similarities to traditional Wu Yi Rock teas, such as the underlying mineral aspect.
The Mi Xiang flavour found here is similar to other ‘Beauty’ teas. These are unique teas favoured for their honey-like profile that occurs due to presence of little green leaf hoppers (Jacobiasca formosana) that nibble the tea leaves during growth. The tea plants react to this attack by producing more polyphenols, which during processing give the unique ‘beauty tea’ flavour. These tea jassids are an essential aspect in production of some Taiwanese teas. However as the presence and effect of the tea jassid in each harvest cannot be replicated by humans, each harvest is different from one to the next. So treat this batch as a particularly fine vintage of wine. While the Tea Master will always try to bring out the desired unique flavours in different batches, this batch is very much a one-off and we will unlikely to get this tea again soon.
This Mi Xiang Wu Yi Heritage Oolong is finished by our Tea Master in a traditional style that has undergone extensive baking. She sought to recreate a type of tea she used to enjoy growing up that her late father used to make. These complex, heavier roasted oolongs that were popular in Taiwan 30+ years ago have been largely replaced by the lightly oxidised floral versions popular today. While both types have a distinct and attractive character, there is a particular appeal in the complex and skilfully crafted heritage-style teas such as this one. It is truly a labour of love and a fitting tribute to a more traditional style of Taiwanese tea.
The leaves of this Mi Xiang Oolong come in tightly rolled pearls and are medium oxidised. The baking level is around 5/10, resulting in a soft and velvety flavour that is not too overpowering on the roast flavour. This tea is finely balanced with roast flavours complimenting the fine honey-like character. The complex flavours are sweet, yet tangy, with floral and fruity notes. The definite Mi Xiang note is present but again it is not overpowering, nicely complimenting the other flavours. There is also a mineral aspect to this tea that can be attributed to the Wu Yi plants used throughout the tasting and on the lasting aftertaste. This is an excellent tea that is elaborate, comforting and exciting.
This tea is best brewed with water at 90°C for 3-4 minutes and the leaves can be brewed 3+ times. For best results brew gong fu style. For fans of aged oolong, this tea will also age extremely well.