Thursday, June 25, 2009

2009 Summer Oriental Beauty Oolong from Taiwan

Yesterday, in Hsin Chu county, a small harvest in an organic tea plantation.
Notice the many flowers and high grass between the bushes. It's not as high as in the abandoned plantation that I've seen lately, but still quite high. The farmer slowly cuts these plants with a light grass trimmer. This is a good sign of organic farming.

There is one Oolong in particular that demands this kind of attention: Oriental Beauty. Why? Because it needs the bite of small green jassids for its special taste. (See also this article for more details). And, very quickly, I was able to find one on this big leaf below:
I've selected 3(*) Oriental Beauty Oolongs of different grades this year.

On the left, this high quality grade comes from Hsin Chu county. Its cultivar is Qingxin Dapa. Harvested by hand on June 19, 2009. Single batch of 12 kg.

Competition style testing:

The brew has a light orange/gold color. Very clear and shiny.

The fragrance displays the characteristics of the jassid bite. Very pure smells, feminine and light.

The taste is sweet, calm and honey like. Almost flawless.

Brewing tip: longer infusion times instead of more leaves. Porcelain vessel.

The second Oriental Beauty comes from San Hsia. Its cultivar is Qingxin Ganzhong. Hand harvested early June from the same field as my Bi Luo Chun. It's a single batch as well.

The brew has a darker red color. Still clear, but a little less.

Fragrances are stronger, more exuberant and complex, but less refined also.

The taste is sweet and also slightly astringent. Its character is more masculine.

Brewing tip: more leaves and shorter infusions. You may also consider using an Yixing teapot to mellow its edges.

This San Hsia Oriental Beauty is cheaper than the one from Hsin Chu and good value if brewed with care.
Left: Hsin Chun, Right: San Hsia.

The close up on the open leaves shows that both have been bitten by the tea jassids:
This is one probably the only summer insect bite that makes so happy!

Picture of the second brew.

* I will introduce the top OB from Hsin Chu in another article.

Note: this was post number 1000! And I'm glad it was dedicated to this very special Oolong.

9 comments:

Celina Huang said...

Very interesting tea comparison. It encourages tea learning very much.

And such tribute to bulang, previously! I have brought great time with similar group in Asia before, yes, very lovely people, with that breathtaking architecture.
A pity the tea meeting´s a bit from here, or the group could have made use of our teahouse, modest, but w/ indoor/outdoor facilities. (Oh!Just feeling hospitable too, when it´s like w/in Europe)& it could have been interesting of course.

Formosan at Heart said...

I <3 this tea! The story behind it is really cute too!

Stephane said...

Thanks Celina and Formosan at Heart.

Karen said...

I, too, am happy that your this significant post was devoted to OB, especially since I noticed last night that it had been added to your list (and just as I was going to ask you about it, too). Tell me, how does this top grade compare to 2007's "perfect?" Is it from the same grower?

Stephane said...

Karen,

Yes, my Hsin Chu Oriental Beauties from 2007, 2008 and 2009 are from the same maker.

How does it compare to 2007? Funny that you would ask, because I was wondering the same thing while tasting several top grades with the farmer this week. And, of course, it's different. At this level, two teas are different like top wines are different from year to year. They all have their distinctive personality. Life is change. And even the 2007 top OB isn't what it was 2 years ago. I had some recently from my tiny private stash, and it has evolved. More mellow and deeper fragrances.

So, if you look for exactly the same, you'd be disappointed, but if you're open for an exquisite OB than you'll find that this year's top OB is very pure and pleasant. And I find it better than last year's. More details next week, I guess.

Andrew Tiiling said...

Many congratulations and your 100 excellent post. This blog has become my favourite most read internet bookmark!

Your teas, descriptions and pictures are truly beautiful. They impart knowledge with such calming beauty I feel I'm reaching tea nirvana!

Looking forward to another order soon, warm wishes

Stephane said...

Thank you very much Andrew for your kind words about my 1000th post and my blog in general.

Looking forward hearing from you soon, before my summer vacation.

pinson said...

Le Oriental Beauty de San Hsia été 2009 est le premier thé que j'ai goûté de ma commande Tea Master.
Je l'ai infusé dans une théière en porcelaine (la petite Qing Bai présenté dans ce blog) contrairement à ce que Stéphane conseille dans l'article, avec une assez grande quantité de feuilles.
Très bon thé !
A la première gorgé, ce qui m'a frappé surtout c'est un rappel prononcé de caramel. Une légère astringence apparait ensuite sur la langue et au fond de la gorge.
A la deuxième infusion, j'ai réduit le temps d'infusion pour essayer d'atténuer l'astringence : des accents fruités et fleuris sont apparus derrière la dominance de caramel. Les infusions sont assez proches dans l'ensemble. Ce thé reste longtemps en bouche : une heure après l'avoir dégusté, on garde encore un souvenir marqué en bouche qui s'atténue ensuite au fur et à mesure.
Très bon thé. Maintenant il me tarde de gouter le Oriental Beauty de Hsin Chu !

Stephane said...

Merci pour tes impressions de dégustation pour ce thé. Je me réjouis de lire comment tu trouves mes autres thés!