Friday, October 28, 2011

The red Oriental Beauty tea

Cultivar: Da Yeh Oolong
Harvested by hand on June 26, 2011
Origin: East Coast of Taiwan
Process: fully oxidized and some roasting

What makes this red tea special is that the farmer grows it without pesticide so that its leaves will be bitten by the small Jacobiasca formosana Paoli (green leaf insects). It's the very same insect that bites the leaves of leaves of Oriental Beauty Oolong (and Concubine Oolong). Tea farmers on the East Coast (and now elsewhere in Taiwan) found that this bite adds a pleasant, natural honey flavor to their red tea. Of course, a bite alone is not sufficient to transform these leaves into high quality tea. The tea field, the climate and a good process are also necessary.

The brew is clear and concentrated. The summer sun of the Pacific Coast shines in abundance.

I selected this tea among 8 other batches for its sweetness and mellow aftertaste. I wanted the ripe red fruit flavors with sweetest taste possible. Now that the weather gets colder, this red (Oriental Beauty) tea a nice source of warmth and comfort.

This tea is originally vacuum packed in a golden plastic foil (see below on the right).
I wondered if several days storage in an antique, glazed jar (previously used as a grenade on Chinese ships to defend themselves against pirates!) would also improve this red tea. So, I did this little experiment: 3 grams brewed for 6 minutes. In the left cup, leaves from the jar and in the right cup, leaves from the plastic foil. I felt a difference, but wondered if it's because I knew what I was looking for. Maybe this difference is auto-suggested, the product of my imagination?

So, I was fortunate to have a friend (a neighbor without much tea experience) arrive when I did my second brew. I said nothing of my experiment and just asked him to taste both brews. He found that the cup 1 (tea stored in the jar) smelled nicer, more fragrant and had a sweeter taste, while cup 2 (tea from the foil) was less pleasant and had hints of bitterness! I was glad that even a tea novice would find the effect of a good jar on this tea so obvious!
The right jar beautifies my red tea

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