Competition Grade Shihding Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea - Summer 2016Taiwan Sourcing
In the old days of Taiwan, "Oriental Beauty" was the most refined "Fan Zhuang Ooong" (番莊烏龍), a name which came about in the early 20th century literally means "a tea for selling to uncivilized people", because the foreigners (especially British) consumed and enjoyed this style of tea very much. As a result, a legend says that the name "Oriental Beauty" came from Queen Elizabeth who was a big fan of it.
Another more persuasive name for "Oriental Beauty" is "Bragging Oolong" (椪風茶), which earned this name because of the extremely high price it garnished when sold to the British merchants during the colonial era. As we already know, Oriental Beauty must suffer from the bites of "leaf grasshopper", causing the "after-bitten" tea leaves to look extremely ugly and cheap according to the old time standard which made the tea farmer feel extremely desperate. But a tea is still a tea, the tea farmer who did not give up on the material decide to process it into heavily oxidized oolong anyway to see if it could be sold. When this tea was desired at such as high price by the British merchant, the farmer who invented this tea immediately shared this news with his friends and neighbors. Sadly, no one believed him at the beginning, and some people even accused him of bragging, which is how Oriental Beauty got the name "Bragging Tea", a name is still widely used in the southern part of Taiwan.
This Oriental Beauty from Summer 2016 was grown in the north part of the island, using the local specimen named "Da Man". The "Da Man" varietal when processed delicately has a very unique pear-like character. This Oriental Beauty is different from those Oriental Beauties that are produced in the middle part of the island which are processed from Qing Xin Dah Pan (青心大冇) varietal.
This is the successor of our "Golden Grade Oriental Beauty," the very big difference is that this time we decided to fetch the competition grade one. You could see in the picture that the tea soup was filled with white feather we were unable to filter off, that was because the varietal itself was very "hairy," and the material was carefully hand picked by the farmer's family (No, we did not exaggerate that, the material was picked by owner's mom and wife), resulting in an already limited overall quantity. The bug bitten-ness aroma and taste will definitely make anyone who loves Oriental Beauty cannot help but to turn their head back again!
Harvest: Summer 2016 / 夏 貳零壹陸
Varietal: Da Man Varietal / 大慢種
Elevation: 500 M / 伍佰 公尺
Region: Shihding / 石碇
Oxidation Level: 74% / 分之 柒拾肆
Roast Level: 0 / 無
From the first cup to the very last this tea is perfect. Very stable output, Balances fruit, sweet, umami, broth, and bitter perfectly. You can tune into one aspect of the tea as you experience it and then tune into something else, or just let it flow through you. very infusable. Bright and lively from start to finish!
I chose to drink this during my afternoon tea time using 7-8 grams in a 170ml gaiwan. I did a few shorter steeps to feel out this competition tea. It proved soft yet luscious. I got some hints of dried apple or pear. Then I did longer steeps which brought out its full body and beautiful nuanced character. There is something really juicy and satisfying about drinking this tea. It definitely lends itself to long infusions which reveal the richness and depth it has in aces. I also enjoyed a lovely warm and fuzzy flushing of my face and chest after about 5 rounds that put me in a lovely state. If you really love oriental beauty teas then don't miss this one.
An old dog literally had this tea from sunrise to sunset, and an old dog decided to abandoned its cliche "as an old dog that has....." just because this tea absolutely worth it. This tea has became an absolutely different breed from its "Golden Grade" cousin. It could be called as "revolutionary" as an old dog supposed, because not only this tea has the best bug bitten aroma, but it also has a delicate but thick enough body for an old dog to steep it the whole day. This oriental beauty tea is extremely beautiful and full of story, and for that an old dog will make this tea "the tea of the year."