Vintage Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea - 1980sTaiwan Sourcing
This tea will be our biggest hit for 2017. We are confident to say that because vintage tea is very difficult to find, and for a vintage oriental beauty it is nearly impossible to get one even for Taiwanese, so it is not an exaggeration to call this tea a "hit of the year". We encountered this tea by mere luck, as for most of the vintage tea, although this one was a bit special since it was found at an old tea house, and it was kept there for 36 years , until now.
"Oriental Beauty" was the most refined "Fan Zhuang Wu Long" (番莊烏龍), a tea that adopted Wu Yi style tea processing back at the time. This is also a name which came about in the early 20th century (around 1820s) 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, and of course it was just a legend after all..
A 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.
It does not require much experience to realize how unique this tea is. The dry tea smells somehow like the new oriental beauty, but once its being steeped its true character will explode with a strong grass jelly aroma that will stir your deepest curiosity of tea - how should it taste like? We will leave that question for you to discover.
Harvest: 1980's / 壹玖捌壹 年代
Varietal: Qing Xin Dah Pan / 青心大冇
Elevation: 400 M / 肆佰 公尺
Region: Emei / 峨嵋
Oxidation Level: 85% / 分之 捌拾伍
Roast Level: 0 / 無
This goes like 20 steeps easily. It's like drinking a finely aged in Taiwan sheng pu'er tea, but with some incredibly unique spicey character. It still has very clear and clean cha qi that reverberates through your whole body all day long! This is a once in a lifetime experience for me. I rare experience indeed!
There is always a challenge for me when brewing tea of this caliber. I feel like I really have to be patient and allow for circumstances to arise that beckon the brewing. In this case it was a lovely late winter late morning, after a break in the rains when my friend and I chose to sit down for a while to dive in. This tea was about a balance and play between saturation and clarity. I used all 10 grams in one of my favorite zisha clay tea pots. It was very complex from the first moment. The tea brews deep dark and rich with powerful depth and earthy sweet overtones. By the fourth round the only words that came to mind were "tea blood". The nourishing quality that still has something like harmonics with a beautiful melody really took me away to some fabled realm. What else can one say...
An old dog was beyond surprise to encounter this tea. It is just way too clean for an tea this old (even though all the vintage tea we are offering are all clean as this one), and it is an oriental beauty! How lucky can an old dog be to encounter a vintage oriental beauty like this! One of the most surprising discovery of this tea is that you can still feel the original character of an oriental beauty, which is very unusual for any vintage tea since time is relentless on such delicate creature, but meanwhile you could still able to identify that this tea has gone through some very very long time. As written in the text above, this tea has a very strong mesona aroma, but this mesona aroma is very different from those you will find on a ripe puer tea. Its mesona aroma, as you might discover soon, was "evolved" from its original oriental beauty aroma, and that just makes this tea an very exceptional experience in tea drinking. Well, there are also more to discover with this tea, so an old dog will end its murmuring here, and leave the fun to whoever is reading this!