What is Oriental Beauty Oolong?
Oriental Beauty, also known as Bai Hao Oolong, is a unique variety of Formosa (Taiwanese) semi-oxidized tea, with an interesting, ‘organic’ method of cultivation associated with it. Skilled tea farmers pick the leaves of the tea plant in the summer months (June and July), choosing only those that have been bitten by a tiny insect known as the leafhopper (Jacobiasca formosana). Science backs this up; when bitten by this insect – considered a pest in most other parts of the world – the tea plant produces certain hormones that impart a unique flavor to the tea leaves. Successfully harvesting a batch of Oriental Beauty oolong is no less than precision work. Pesticides cannot be used, lest they kill the leaf hoppers. And the leaves have to be carefully chosen based on the number of insect bites on them.
A tea with many names
Oriental Beauty Oolong has many aliases, and a lot them have interesting origin stories as well. A commonly used name is “Bai Hao Oolong” or “White-Tipped Oolong”, which is self-explanatory thanks to the white buds present in the tea. You may also find Oriental Beauty listed as “Champagne Oolong”. Sample some and you’ll know exactly why! Its delicate taste and beautiful peachy fragrance have inspired tea connoisseurs to refer to it as the “champagne of teas”. Another interesting name for Oriental Beauty Oolong is “Pengfeng Tea” or “Bragger’s Tea”. This name was coined when the tea started fetching sky-high prices thanks to its unique and irresistible flavor!
What kind of tea is it?
Every batch of Oriental Beauty is the result of hard work and specialist cultivation. But the result is highly rewarding. The leaves are gorgeous to look at, presenting shades of white, green, gold, browns and reds. They make a beautiful infusion as well, producing a clear, bright, amber colored liquor. Oriental Beauty is a heavily oxidized Formosa oolong, its oxidation scale (65%-85%) placing it very close to black teas. It is slightly sweet and velvety smooth, its flavor commonly referred to as “peach and honey”.
Tasting notes and reviews
Oriental Beauty Oolong is primarily known for its sweet, “intoxicating” aroma and “honeyed undertones”. The taste is often described as “autumnal”, thanks to its hints of fruits, spices and roasted nuts. Its “citrusy, spicy flavor” is accompanied by “a brown sugar like sweetness” and an “agreeable amount of astringency”. The overall floral palate balances the earthiness of the tea, making it “strong, but not overpowering”.
- Taiwanese Oriental Beauty Oolong leaves will have characteristic white furry tips, hence the alternative “nickname” White Tip Oolong. As all other oolongs, it can be used for multiple infusions, though it is best to steep it for 2-3 minutes only, as longer brewing can lead to a bitter taste in your cup. Depending on the strength of the brew you’re going for, adjust the amount of tea you use rather than its steeping time. It is also advisable to use fresh water at about 190-200F to brew your batch of Oriental Beauty oolong.
- Also try other types of Taiwanese oolongs: Milk Oolong and Pouchong among the most popular.