Friday, April 05, 2013


Most people would have heard of Oriental Beauty from Beipu (北埔東方美人/白毫烏龍). That's unique. But I'm not enamored with it. The Oriental Beauty I like, is from Ping Lin (坪林). Beipu is in Hsinchu county in northern Taiwan. Ping Lin is in also in northern Taiwan, nearer to Yilan county. The difference in the taste comes from the different conditions of the soil and climate. You've heard of the romantic story (real) of how the tea is created by cicadas biting into the leaves and stems right?

Specifically, I like an older Oriental Beauty that would have been fully oxidized as opposed to a fresh batch. Bought a beautiful pack of 2007 Oriental Beauty from Ping Lin. Now, the age doesn't matter in terms of pricing. Often, the fresher the tea is, the better. Unless we're talking about the pu'er. This sort of aged teas as defined by the Taiwanese as 'old teas' (老茶), don't fetch a significantly higher pricing.

This 2007 Oriental Beauty isn't an 'old tea'. Those are defined as teas aged 15 years and above. Mostly a Taiwanese definition since their tea industry is relatively young. The period of what's 'old' will shift, according to climate changes and soil condition. Whatever's good back in 1970 wouldn't be too good now. What follows in the next 20 years will be whatever Taiwan's tea academics and farmers choose to re-define.

When I first tasted the 2007 Oriental Beauty from Ping Lin at the tea shop, I fell in love. Now, as I brew it myself at home, testing it in a Yixing clay teapot and a ceramic gaiwan, adjusting the temperature of the water, I'm able to discern the layers of flavors within, and decide for myself what sort of consistency of taste I want in this cup of tea. Pulled it easily to 6 brews in either clay or ceramic vessel.

That distinct sour plum note. It's a trait of Taiwanese teas that have been kept for years. Then came the fruit and bits of floral notes of the Oriental Beauty. I like this more subtle and elegant version of Ping Lin's. Beipu's famed signature is more robust. Pleased that the man likes this particular tea too. Even though I don't bother talking to him much about tea, and simply lets him drink them, his tastebuds have been gradually cultivated to be fairly discerning. Heh.

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