Friday, January 25, 2019

Oriental Beauty class

This week I gave a tea class focused entirely on Oriental Beauty Oolong from Hsin Chu county. We brewed 6 different OBs in white porcelain. We started with the 2017 summer OB tradition, which is a very reference for what a traditionally roasted OB from Hsin Chu should taste like.
Imperial grade vs normal grade
Next, we compared it to the imperial grade OB and tried both 2018 and 2016 versions. This is a very interesting and important comparison, because OB is unlike most Oolongs. Its price is very much linked to its quality level and not just to its origin and season. Prices for spring Alishan Qingxin Oolongs don't vary much from one lot to another. Prices for OB, however, can increase dramatically. Farmers can charge three times to fifty times more for OBs that look very similar. The difference you may notice is that the imperial grade has more (white) buds than the normal grade. This has an impact on the aromas, but only if you brew the tea well.

Advice: since OB leaves are rather small, their flavors are rather quickly extracted by boiling water. It's best not to overbrew such leaves.
And we ended the class with the aged 2010 fall top OB and my 2008 'perfect' OB. This helped us confirm that time improved the finesse of the fragrances and mellowed the taste of well roasted OB (without subsequent roasts necessary).

1 comment:

toni3d said...

The class was amazing, I always feel very grateful to try aged teas. Being Oriental Beauty made it even more especial. Stéphane explained me about the history of this tea and what to expect and how to tell the difference between the good quality and a common one. Thank you!