Sadly, I am coming to an end of my Thai oolong stock as this is the penultimate one I am writing about. This oolong is also known as Bai Hao (literally ‘white tip’ referring to the white fuzz on the plucked one bud two leaves) or Dong Fang Mei Ren and comes from the Chiang Rai province of Thailand. It has medium level oxidation and a colour profile of mixed tones of green.
Oriental beauty is also known as the champagne of teas. It has some peculiarities which relate to its cultivation. Before harvest, the tea leaves are bitten by a certain type of leafhoppers. The farmers let this happen as this adds considerably to the taste and quality of the tea. The liquid that is left behind by the leafhoppers mixes with other leaf juices and cause the desired reaction. A leaf which has been bitten by the leafhopper can be understood by a white mark it leaves behind. What is interesting to note is that the leafhoppers would only visit plantations that are free of pesticides. Thus, it would be accurate to say that an authentic ‘Oriental Beauty’ is an organic oolong tea and it's rarer than others as the harvest is reduced to summertime only when the leafhoppers visit the plantations. The rest of the harvest is normally used for green tea.
As for this tea, I was very excited about its fragrance which was smoky like tobacco with flowers. However, the smokiness and overall fragrance disappeared quickly as I steeped it and the taste started to become sweeter. I expected that I could steep this tea for at least 10 times, but after the third time, the taste became somewhat blander. So, I stopped there.
I found a great website that serves a great resource concerning Thai oolong teas in case you would like to learn more. I am now looking forward to trying the Taiwanese version of Oriental Beauty which is apparently further oxidised.
Origin: Northern Thailand
Harvest time: 2019
Leave colour: Various tones of green
Liquor colour: Light amber
Tea aroma: Smoky with tobacco and floral notes
Tea taste: Slightly sweet with floral notes
Steeping/brewing: You can use around 100°C water temperature and brew for up to one minute in gongfu style or up to three minutes in Western-style. You can brew the leaves many times (until the taste is lost). To each infusion add additional time. Experiment for a result that suits your taste.
Shelf life: Up to 2 years (some keep it in the fridge to improve the shelf life but for this you need to ensure that the tea is tightly sealed)