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. Skilled tea farmers pick the tea plant leaves 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 leafhoppers. 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 of 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!
how does Oriental Beauty Oolong differ from any other tea?
Every batch of Oriental Beauty is the result of hard work and specialist cultivation. But the result is gratifying. 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 type of Oolong, its oxidation scale (65%-85%) placing it very close to black teas. It is slightly sweet and velvety smooth, and its flavor is commonly referred to as “peach and honey.”
What does Bai Hao Oolong taste like?
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 tea’s earthiness, making it “strong, but not overpowering.”
- To identify quality Oriental Beauty Oolong, take a closer look at the tea leaves. Taiwanese Oriental Beauty Oolong leaves will have characteristic white furry tips, hence the alternative “nickname” White Tip Oolong.
- Also try other types of Taiwanese oolongs: Milk Oolong, High Mountain Oolong, and Pouchong among the most popular.
How to steep Oriental Beauty Oolong?
As with 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..
Where to buy the best Bai Hao Oolong online?
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Formosa Bai Hao
Formosa Bai Hao is known by many names - Oriental Beauty, White Tip Oolong, Champagne oolong, and Fancy Formosa Silver Tip, to name just a few. This heavily oxidized Taiwanese tea is one of the most prized oolongs in the world. Incredibly sweet, fruity and lush with a delicate warm spicy undertone. Striking and thought-provoking tea, perfect for multiple infusions.
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Isabelle is a freelance writer, self-taught tea nerd, and tea blending enthusiast. She is a herbalist with a strong interest in Ayurveda. Each year Isabelle travels extensively, returning with tea samples from around the world. She is a big fan of handmade teaware and Japanese green teas.