Tag Archives: oolong tea

Oolong tea: Oriental Beauty

Oriental Beauty

Darjeeling’s cousin. Light, fruity and heavily-oxidised for an oolong.
Oolong tea » Traditional » Taiwan, ★
Also known as: 东方美人茶, Dongfang Meiren Cha

Oriental Beauty is very highly oxidised, with a few furry tips included. The dry leaf looks a little like two teas blended together. And the taste more closely resembles a light, fruity black tea (such as Darjeeling) than an oolong. A quick look at this tea’s Wikipedia page helps us to explain why:

“Dongfang meiren is the chhiⁿ-sim tōa-phàⁿ (青心大冇) cultivar grown without pesticides to encourage a common pest, the tea green leafhopper (Jacobiasca formosana), to feed on the leaves, stems, and buds. These insects suck the phloem juices of the tea stems, leaves, and buds, producing monoterpene diol and hotrienol which give the tea its unique flavor. The buds then turn white along the edges which gives the tea its alternate name, white tip oolong. The insect bites start the oxidation of the leaves and tips and add a sweet note to the tea.” — Wikipedia.

I can feel the muscatel flavour (reminiscent of grape skin), and a fruitiness similar to that of fruit infusions (or “fruit teas”) in later brews. The medium-tannin, low-caffeine taste lasts for many hours on your tongue after drinking.

Oriental Beauty would appeal to playful tea drinkers. These are the tea-drinkers who like to add fruit, nuts, popcorn and milky flavours to the leaf, or even create their own tea-blends. In producing this tea, the farmers have done exactly that: they’ve introduced insect species with the specific intention of altering the tea’s flavour. Personally, I prefer simplicity.

I’ll give this tea two stars, but those who prefer black teas, dark teas, fruit teas and rooibos infusions could possibly give it all five. ★★

Oolong tea: “Oolong Formosa”

Dong Ding Oolong

Unidentified dummy oolong. Maybe a dead Dong Ding.
Oolong tea » Traditional » Taiwan, ★★

Hmm. The nomenclature’s incomplete. My local tea merchant labelled it lazily as “Oolong Formosa”. But “Formosa” means “Taiwan”, which tells us only the genus of the tea but not its species. (The same merchant sells other teas from Taiwan such as Dong Ding and Oriental Beauty, which are labelled correctly.) So I set about discovering what this mystery “Oolong Formosa” really is.

It looks like any other oolong tea with a tight curl and a relatively unoxidised leaf (about 40%, I’d say). But when I brew it, it lacks the fragrance and freshness I’d expect after examining at the leaf—the brew gives me mouthfeel but no flavour. It certainly cleansed my palate, but didn’t really leave me with any taste.

I think this mystery tea is a lower-quality pluck of Dong Ding (a Taiwan Oolong). The leaf is indistinguishable, but the pluck contains more stems. “Oolong Formosa” carries more undesirable fizziness and grittiness, and while it does give the mineral-induced mouthfeel of a quality oolong, it just tastes fake.

Oolong Formosa” is priced just a little lower than Dong Ding. Needless to say, I strongly recommend getting the real deal (Dong Ding) instead of this sleepy impostor just for the sake of a few dollars more. Dong Ding is worth every cent. Don’t skimp. ★★