Oriental Beauty Oolong, also known as Dong Fang Mei Ren (東方美人) or Bai Hao “white tip” (白毫), is a unique oolong that originates from Taiwan, sometimes also known as Champagne Oolong! The origin of the Oriental Beauty name has a few legends around it, including being named by either Queen Victoria or Queen Elizabeth II. While it is a nice sentiment that attests to the importance of tea in British culture, it does seem that it is only a legend, perhaps one that has been used to market this tea in the past.
Oriental Beauty Oolong is classed as a ‘beauty tea’, which is a highly unusual class of oolongs, affected by the presence of little green leaf hoppers 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, usually described as a honey-like taste and aroma. Oriental Beauty Oolong is perhaps the most well-known example of a beauty tea and represents a heavily oxidised oolong, which can sometimes be incorrectly classed as a black tea. However, there are also other less oxidised varieties such as Gui Fei and Mi Xian.
Our Oriental Beauty Oolong is made from a Qing Xin (青心) or Green Heart cultivar grown around mountain peaks between Alishan and Shanlinxi in Yunlin county, Taiwan. It is grown at an altitude of 800m and was harvested in August 2016. As presence of green leaf hoppers is essential for development of the unique ‘bug bitten’ taste, this tea is produced to organic standards.
This is a tippy oolong that comes in loose (rather than rolled) form, which is less common for Taiwanese oolongs. As it is heavily oxidised, this creates an interesting blend of the ‘beauty’ flavour with a depth of a darker oolong. The rich golden liquor has a typical wild-honey and floral aroma and the taste has similar qualities. The highly notable honey taste comes through the medium robustness of a fruity and mildly floral oolong, resulting in a balanced and smooth flavour. There is no astringency or tannins, making for a easy and comforting cup.
Oriental Beauty Oolong tea is best brewed at 90°C for 3-4 minutes according to your taste. It can also be brewed 3 or more times, slowly increasing the steeping time with each subsequent brew.