A small batch procured in Yunnan, China, during our last trip this spring.
A very interesting tea! This tea comes from hundreds of years old arbor trees in the mountains of Jing Mai.
Produced much like a Bai Hao Oolong, this red tea has a warm, comforting body with distinct notes of soft bark, stone fruit, and a hint of eucalyptus. The liquor is a bright and clear amber/ruby. This tea responds well to being steeped in a gaiwan, but can also produce great results gong fu style or even Western style.
The long, twisted leaves undergo about 80-90% fermentation, making it technically an oolong, but it cups a lot like a great red ("black" in Westernese) tea.
I loved this tea when we tasted it with the farmers. I bought as much as I could haul around with me before loading it in a box and shipping it back home. It finally arrived!
Water: 200°F | Leaves: 1.5 -2 teaspoons per 6 ounce cup | Infusion Time: 3-4 minutes
Basic Steeping Tips
- Use filtered or spring water, whenever possible
- Don’t overboil water
- Remove leaves after recommended time (adjust to taste)
- If you want stronger tea, use more leaves instead of steeping for a longer time
Leaves can be resteeped 2-3 times resulting in various flavor differences. Don’t throw out those leaves until they have given it all up!
Polyphenol in oolong tea is effective in controlling weight. It activates the enzyme that is responsible for dissolving triglycerides. Studies have confirmed that a 2-3 cup per day intake of oolong tea contributes to enhancing the function of fat metabolism and controlling obesity.
The Oriental Beauty dates back to the end of the 19th century, when Taiwan began to export their teas to the west. During this time, tea was mostly harvest at low altitudes in the plains of northern Taiwan. Most of the tea farmers were new immigrants from the Fujian Province of China with little experience for growing tea. Each summer, the farmer’s tea plants were eaten by swarms of small green leaf cicadas. The farmers didn’t bother to harvest these tea plants because the low quality would be turned down by the foreign traders. However, one farmer in the Hsin Chu county of Taipei harvested his bitten leaves and managed to sell them for a high price to one of the foreign traders, John Dodd. Legend has it that the tea made from these leaves were so good that it made its way to the Queen Elizabeth II, who named it “Oriental Beauty.” Back in Hsin Chu, the farmer bragged to everyone how great his tea was, and thus the tea was also dubbed “Pong Fong Cha” or “bragger’s tea”.
The Oriental Beauty is highly oxidized. After being bitten by cicadas, the leaves are harvested during the summer. The bite catalyzes the oxidation process, reduces astringency, and adds a sweet, honey characteristic to the tea.