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Oriental Beauty - Taiwan

Oriental Beauty - Taiwan

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Light, sweet and subtle. This is one of the world’s most mysterious teas, a bug-bitten oolong indigenous to these mountains and known to tea connoisseurs as Bai Hao Oolong or Oriental Beauty.

In late May and early June, rising temperatures nudge tiny leafhoppers to begin their annual feasting on succulent, young tea plants. In most instances, farmers would act to rid their gardens of these pests. But for tea farmers of Northwest Taiwan, these invaders are a welcome sight because their arrival marks the beginning of the season for making Bai Hao oolong.

Commonly called jassips or thrips, these tiny predators chew small holes on the leaves, which initiates premature oxidation as the leaf manufactures an enzyme to fend off its attacker. A tiny bit of damage is good, but a greater amount of mutilation can cause the leaf to wilt and drop off. This tea can only be picked by workers with keen eyes who can discern leaves scarred with just the right percentage of blemishes.

Damaged tea leaves like this were once thought to be worthless by tea growers. But legend has it that a tea farmer in this district noticed that small green insects had damaged the leaves of his spring crop. Rather than destroy his harvest, he decided to process the leaves into tea. He showed his finished tea to a local tea merchant who liked it well enough to pay him twice the price of his usual tea. When the farmer returned to his village, he boasted to his neighbors about his success. His neighbors believed he was exaggerating and so named his tea, Peng Feng Cha, or Braggart's tea.

Unlike rolled oolongs, the flavor is less green and more toward white. Just look at all the tips in this beautiful tea! Good for 5-7 infusions. Steep 2 minutes at 190°F. Drink and repeat the infusion ritual as many times as the tea yields its delicious aroma. EU Certified Standards.

Read about Bruce Richardson's adventures in the Taiwan tea gardens during the Oriental Beauty harvest season.

Ingredients: Premium oolong tea from Taiwan
Origin: Shu Family Garden, Xin Zhu County, Taiwan
Caffeine Level: Medium
Brewing Time: 2 minutes. Yields multiple infusions.
Water Temperature: 190°F
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