Tuesday, July 06, 2010

June 2010 Top Oriental Beauty

These tea fields near Hsin Chu are invaded by various plants and insects. In early summer, in these low elevations, nature is bustling and bursting into bloom. This diverse and preserved ecosystem is rich in ripe and natural fragrances. We usually focus on the impact of the bite of the tiny green tea jassids when we discuss Oriental Beauty Oolong. But the organic growing methods are not just a way to help the tea jassids multiply, they contribute to the pure and intense smells of the summer Taiwanese countryside we find in this cup of tea.

All kinds of small plants, flowers and insects can be found in the tea fields. No pesticides or herbicides are used.

The other reason for the top quality of this original tea is the use of buds of Qingxin Dapa (or Dapang). Buds are more concentrated with fragrances than mature leaves. This adds to the intensity of this tea. And while it's possible to process any kind of Oolong (Si Ji Chun, Jinxuan...) as OB, the Qingxin Dapa cultivar is the best fit for this tea, in my opinion. And it's in Hsin Chu county that the tea makers have the longest tradition and best skills.

One ingredient didn't play along this year, though. The weather was particularly rainy during the June harvest season. The first consequence was to reduce the number of Jacobiasca Formosana Paoli (the tea jassids). This means less bites on the leaves. Secondly, the rain means the leaves had an excess of water, which took more efforts and skills to process.

Weeding is done foot by foot. The cut weeds are left on the field to be decompose as natural fertilizer. This organic cultivation is also what makes the quality and purity of this tea so outstanding.
I ended up selecting only a top grade Oriental Beauty. Here is how I brewed it:
Handharvested on June 1st, 2010.
Single batch of 5 kg only.
Origin: Ma Shan, E Mei, Hsin Chu county.

Brewing vessel: small 'ivory' white porcelain gaiwan.

The leaves are slightly more mature and bigger than usual. Many show signs of tea jassids bites.

The brew is clear, transparent and of an intense yellow leaning toward orange.

The fragrance is intense, pure with hints of red fruits, spices and Fendi perfume. It brings back all the summer smells that are present on the tea plantation. This explosion of the finest ripe perfume-like smells is what earned this Oolong its name, Oriental Beauty.

The taste is sweet with a touch of fruity astringency. The aftertaste is clean, but lacks a little bit in finesse.

All in all, we find the stunning fragrances of a top Oriental Beauty. It's a tea to drink this year, until the next harvest, not a tea to age. I have reduced the package size to 25 grams so that my 5 kg can be shared among more of you.

Its high oxidation (the open leaves are almost completely red) brings out the ripe and rich smells. It's such a contrast with High Mountain Oolongs! Instead of fresh mountain air, OB gives a feeling of warm summer country side. That's why I use a red Cha Bu most of the time with this tea. And I particularly like the following pictures with the bamboo leaves. They capture warmth of the slow summer afternoon, drinking tea.

Enjoy Summer Tea Happiness!

4 comments:

Kim Christian said...

Beautiful pictures, Stéphane !!
They whet my appetite for OB and
remind me of sweet memories of
Taiwan...

Stephane said...

Thank you, Kim! I wish you a wonderful summer.

toki said...

Sweet Memories indeed. Hows the weather in Taiwan this Spring, nothing bad happen comparing to Fujian, Chao Zhou and Yunnan? Hope all i well Stephane. ~ Toki

Stephane said...

Toki,
The spring weather started cold and later rose very dramatically, but remained quite dry until end of May. Thanks to the more southern position of Taiwan, it was spared the extreme cold or dry weather of China. The spring Oolongs are of very high quality this spring. You should definitely taste some!