Floating Leaves Tea Home ---Shiuwen's Blog!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Oriental Beauty

This tea goes by many names. Oriental Beauty (Dongfang Meiren), Bai Hao Oolong (White Tips), Champagne Oolong, Formosa Oolong, Five Colors Tea (Wuse Cha), Braggart's Tea (Pong Hong De). It was the most exported tea from Taiwan to the West in the 1800s. The Queen of England is credited with naming it Oriental Beauty, because loved it so much when she tasted it.

The tea is well known for its distinctive honey sweetness. The story goes that tea jassids (little aphid-like bugs) fly around and bite the leaves of tea plants. The plant produces a secretion at the bite-mark, which apparently gives the tea its sweet taste.

The first time this happened, the tea farmers thought their crops were lost. But a bold farmer turned around and made the tea anyway, and his Western middleman loved the product. He was so proud, he went around telling all the surrounding farmers, hence the tea garnered the name Braggart's Tea.

The tea is highly oxidized, about 70 percent. It is sweet, light bodied, floral, fruity. The bouquet is really exquisite. The dry leaves are tippy, with little silver buds and long brown-red leaves. It's distinctive taste has gotten the attention of tea drinkers across Asia, so there are farmers in Viet Nam, Thailand and China trying to reproduce the taste. But it was first grown in Xin Zhu/Miao Li in Taiwan, and now Ping Lin grows some great Oriental Beauty as well.

Our Oriental Beauty is made in Ping Lin with the Qing Xin varietal. The most popular, original style Oriental Beauty is grown with the Qing Xin Da Pa varietal. And farmers are also making this tea with Bai Mao Hou varietal (White Haired Monkey), which produces a beautiful tea with tiny, fine leaves.

This is a regular daily tea for both of us. It is great in a bowl or mug (grandpa style) for a morning tea. The tea jassids only show up in a big group once a year, so the tea is only produced one season per year. Because Shiuwen doesn't visit Taiwan in the summer, she's never seen it being processed. We hope to visit some great Oriental Beauty farmers and watch them make this tea some day.

We will be drinking this tea live on Instagram next Tuesday 10/24 at 11:30. Please tune in and drink the tea with us! Shuiwen will brew the tea and talk about her experience with it. If you have our Oriental Beauty, that's great. If not, brewing another Oriental Beauty would also be great. We hope you can make it! Our Instagram account is https://www.instagram.com/floatingleavestea/

Written by Noah

*photography by Jake Knapp of Cloud 9 Photography & Design.

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