A heavenly aroma of honeyed fruits and zesty flowers. This Miaoli Dong Fang Mei Ren is an absolute winner with stunning aromatic delights combined with a satisfying mouthfeel.
If you have been following us for a while, then you know that we don't buy Eastern Beauty unless it hits the high notes of such an iconic tea. There are way too many expensive and underwhelming versions out there which do not give the complete Eastern/Oriental Beauty Experience.
We are looking for a tea which has everything - citronella and citrus fruit twang, zesty rose florals, honeyed, ambrosial dessert wines and a satisfying structure in the mouth. Most often an Oriental beauty has some of these characteristics but not all.
Our 2022 tea is from Miaoli which is the original location for this tea and it rocks!
Eastern Beauty or Oriental Beauty is a heavily oxidised Taiwanese Oolong which is very rich in terpenes - volatile aromatics giving the tea a potent fragrance. This amplified level of terpenes is due to the processing of the leaf, but it can be even more complex if the leaf is attacked by the Jassid or Leaf Hopper before picking. This is why the tea is picked in summer at lower elevations because this is the environment most likely to attract these insects.
The processing increases the amount of terpenes especially Linalool and Geraniol. These give the tea a floral and fruity fragrance with notes of geranium, rose, citrus, citronella and lychee. If the plantation is visited by the jassids, then the tea plants create another compound called 2,6-dimethyl-3,7-octadien-2,6-diol which is a precursor to Hotrienol. The reason why the tea plant creates this terpene is either because it is a fragrance that the Jassids do not enjoy or because it attracts the natural predators to the Jassids, but whatever the reason, the result is even higher levels of terpenes. Hotrienol is responsible for the fermented, sweet fragrance in Riesling, Gewurztraminer, elderflower, rose and honey.
There are many tea vendors out there selling Eastern Beauty (aka Oriental Beauty, White Tip Oolong, Dongfang Meiren, Bai Hao Oolong). They all make the same claims about the leafhoppers and the intense muscatel aroma, but the fact is that there are so many different grades ranging from the sublime to the awful.
In Taiwan, this tea is at a premium and extremely expensive. True Eastern Beauty picked from Miaoli County should retail at upwards of £50 per 100g. Anything less and there is no way that it is Eastern Beauty which has been insect bitten.
Really, the origin and the authenticity of the tea does not matter. What is important is that the tea is delicious with an intense honeyed fruit aroma that is unmistakable. We are confident that after tasting our Eastern Beauty, you will have a standard against which all other Eastern Beauty can be judged - it is perfection.