Friday, October 28, 2011

The red Oriental Beauty tea

Cultivar: Da Yeh Oolong
Harvested by hand on June 26, 2011
Origin: East Coast of Taiwan
Process: fully oxidized and some roasting

What makes this red tea special is that the farmer grows it without pesticide so that its leaves will be bitten by the small Jacobiasca formosana Paoli (green leaf insects). It's the very same insect that bites the leaves of leaves of Oriental Beauty Oolong (and Concubine Oolong). Tea farmers on the East Coast (and now elsewhere in Taiwan) found that this bite adds a pleasant, natural honey flavor to their red tea. Of course, a bite alone is not sufficient to transform these leaves into high quality tea. The tea field, the climate and a good process are also necessary.

The brew is clear and concentrated. The summer sun of the Pacific Coast shines in abundance.

I selected this tea among 8 other batches for its sweetness and mellow aftertaste. I wanted the ripe red fruit flavors with sweetest taste possible. Now that the weather gets colder, this red (Oriental Beauty) tea a nice source of warmth and comfort.

This tea is originally vacuum packed in a golden plastic foil (see below on the right).
I wondered if several days storage in an antique, glazed jar (previously used as a grenade on Chinese ships to defend themselves against pirates!) would also improve this red tea. So, I did this little experiment: 3 grams brewed for 6 minutes. In the left cup, leaves from the jar and in the right cup, leaves from the plastic foil. I felt a difference, but wondered if it's because I knew what I was looking for. Maybe this difference is auto-suggested, the product of my imagination?

So, I was fortunate to have a friend (a neighbor without much tea experience) arrive when I did my second brew. I said nothing of my experiment and just asked him to taste both brews. He found that the cup 1 (tea stored in the jar) smelled nicer, more fragrant and had a sweeter taste, while cup 2 (tea from the foil) was less pleasant and had hints of bitterness! I was glad that even a tea novice would find the effect of a good jar on this tea so obvious!
The right jar beautifies my red tea


Steph said...

Wow - What a wonderful opportunity for a comparison!

Unknown said...

That's a magic jar! Maybe I can test the jar quality use your method!

David Lau said...

What an interesting discovery! I love storing tea "reclaimed," time tested containers but have never gotten my hands on military gear. I'm sure there is plenty here though, it might be time to start asking around!

Nick Herman said... this a downside of modern, vacuum-packed foil convenience, you think?

TeaMasters said...

Thanks Steph and ZXYX.

David, these grenades were mostly used by merchants on the sea, when they had to fight pirates attacking their ships.

modern foils are cost effective and do a good job protecting the leaves against moisture, air, odors and preserving their freshness... But a good and suitable jar can help further refine the tea. This, foils can't do. So, yes, it's one downside, but it can be remedied: a few minutes in the right jar can already make a significant impact.

ana said...

Stephane ni hao :-). I just find Your Blog today, and so exited about it! Thank You very much for such a helpful information about Taiwan tea! I'm just a beginner in Taiwan tea, and would like to ask You where You buy all this delicious tea? I live in Taichung, and so far know the "TenRen's Tea" company store and see some private small stores somewhere. But really afraid to buy something not good quality because of my not good Chinese:-( So i would really ask You about places where to buy for example the real Oriental Beauty Tea?
P.S. May be in Taipei You do have some master class, or lessons about Taiwan tea etc.? :-) Have a good day. Anna

TeaMasters said...

You can send me an email at: and I will send you the list of my teas.