What's the second famous Taiwanese tea on our list?
#2 Oriental Beauty Oolong
Let's start with some weird facts. There's multiple names for this tea each with different reasons. Here's what we know,
Yanzai Tea 煙仔茶
Yanzai refers to the green leaf hoppers
Pongfong Tea 澎風茶
Pongfong meaning bluffing because it was sold at high prices when it was thought to be worthless
Oriental Beauty Oolong 東方美人茶
Named by British royalties for it's beautiful colours and shapes. It seemed like a lady dancing in the tea pot.
White Tip Oolong 白毫烏龍
White tip refers to the white buds that are caused by the hoppers
Champagne Oolong 香檳烏龍
A name given for its high status among the oolongs
Five Colour Tea 五色茶
Referring to the 5 colours of the dry leaves
Where's the origin? Oriental Beauty Oolong were first made in north western part of Taiwan, at a low altitude of around 600m between the plains and the mountains and mostly by Hakka people. Emei 峨眉, Baosan 寶山 and Beibu 北埔 are the three major production town in Hsinchu, Taiwan. This pesticide free method inspired the creation of 'honey scented black tea' in east coast Taiwan.
What makes the tea unique and what's the tea like? The invention of Oriental Beauty Oolong began with green leaf hoppers and a few hardworking Hakka people in Taiwan. Bitten tea leaves are consider ruined but Hakka people, known for their frugal character, decided to make it into tea for the family to drink. Green leaf hoppers populate during summer times in Taiwan. They are about 2.5mm with yellow green body, beige feelers and grey white eyes. Green leaf hoppers feast on the tea leaf juices like vegetarian vampires. The leaves' natural chemistry reaction is to produce more polyphenols and tea tannin. The bitten tea leaves grow slower and curls up while the tea buds turn harder and yellow white in colour. The production process is a rare heavy oxidization at 75~85 % with an additional second oxidization step. The result is a unique one of a kind honey and ripe fruit flavours along with orange and maple leaf tea liquid colours. It's sweet, full body and easy drinking.
Oriental Beauty Oolong is often expensive. Why the high price you ask? Because it takes double the amount of fresh tea leaves to make the same weight of tea compare to other teas. The second reason is because we got to rely on the green leaf hoppers to do the biting!
How do you choose good Oriental Beauty Oolongs? Look for dry tea leaves with multiple colours, red, white, brown and green. And for the top notch Oriental Beauty Oolongs, looks for the extra colour, yellow!
Next time when you see a tea with one of the six names, you'll know what they're talking about! Hope you enjoyed the read. Next time, we'll talk about Baozhong Oolong.