Spring Oriental Beauty is the Ultimate Oriental Beauty
This tea was only made by very exclusive material. The tea garden is located on top of the Ali Shan Mountain. Oriental Beauty is harvested in early summer, while Spring Oriental Beauty is harvested in Spring. Needless to say, the tea leaves plucked in spring are much tender and delicate. However, due to the cold weather in Spring, there is a lesser number of green flies. Furthermore, the tea leaves selected for Spring Oriental Beauty must be bitten by green flies to a much higher extent. Due to such stringent requirements, only 20kg of tea is made from 1 hectare of tea garden. Its extraordinarily smooth taste and fruity flavor is literally unforgettable.
1. History and Culture
Transparent Light Yellow color reminds us of Champagne. Use a nice glass ware such as crystal is cool.
Once upon a time, a farmer left his tea garden as he was too busy to take care. Then his tea garden was terribly attacked by a large number of green flies. All the bitten tea leaves changed into yellow in color. Nevertheless, he still processed the tea leaves as he could not afford to give up his tea. To his surprise, the tea processed from insect bitten leaves gave a very strong fruity flavor. Coincidentally, a European tea merchant noticed this tea. He loved its quality very much and named it as Formosa Tea. It is believed that this is the prototype of Oriental Beauty. However it is slightly different from the conventional Oriental Beauty. The processing method of Oriental Beauty changes year after year. According to the older generation, during their young days, the method of making Oriental Beauty was quite different. In any case, there is no change in the plucking of tea leaves. They only select the leaves that are attacked by green flies. Usually each twig consists of one bud and two leaves.
According to the tea expert of Taiwan, the Formosa Tea was less fermented and more greenish. Spring Oriental Beauty is more greenish as compared to Oriental Beauty. We wonder if the old Formosa tea that the Europeans were so fascinated with was similar to our Spring Oriental Beauty.
2. Production Area
The tea garden is located on top of the Dong Ding Mountain. In the afternoon this area is always covered with fog. Due to the very thick fog, tea becomes very mellow and sweet in taste. In addition, the weather of Dong Ding Mountain is very windy and cold. At night, the temperature drops drastically. During the day time, tea leaves produce plenty of substances, yet they are not consumed at night due to the cold temperature. This is the reason why our Spring Oriental Beauty gives a very strong flavor, extra smooth drinking feeling and sweet taste.
3. Cultivar and Plucking
Spring Oriental Beauty is made from the cultivar called Qing-xin Da Mao (青心大冇). Like to Oriental Beauty, this tea is made from the tea leaves that are attacked by small insects known as the green fly. This insect does not fly down to any tea garden, but only a particular garden that they like. The farmer needs to keep the tea garden as natural as possible with the hope that the green flies will return this year. When a tea garden is managed without using pesticides, the output drastically drops to even less than 1/4. In addition, the tea leaves used for Spring Oriental Beauty can be plucked only in Spring. During this season, there is only a few number of green flies. Moreover the tea leaves must be much more extensively bitten by green flies than the one for oriental beauty. Due to these stringent conditions, the output of Spring Oriental Beauty is only 20kg from 1 hectare of tea garden.
The mechanism of formation of the mysterious fragrance is yet to be fully revealed. We assume that the tea leaves which are attacked by these insects will subsequently produce some kind of antibody. Usually the antibody of plant is called Phytoalexin. It is known that there is a type of Phytoalexin which gives a fruity aroma. It is a small molecular substance called terpenoid. We wonder if this substance has anything to do with the flavor of Spring Oriental Beauty.
Sun Shine Withering
After plucking, the tea leaves are spread over the ground under the natural sunshine. It is called Sunshine Withering. Usually clouded weather is ideal in order to avoid excessive damage to the tea leaves. If the sunny weather continues, a black cloth is used to cover the tea leaves to block out the harsh rays of sunshine. With sunshine withering, moisture inside the tea leaf gets evaporated and fermentation is moderately triggered. The tea leaf will gradually start releasing a refreshing aroma.
The method of fermentation for oolong tea is completely different from that of black tea. After the sunshine withering is completed, tea leaves are conveyed into the factory and spread over a sheet. The tea leaf used for Spring Oriental Beauty consists of only a single bud and two leaves, which is different from that of ordinary high mountain oolong tea whereby 4 to 5 leaves are required. In making the Spring Oriental Beauty, as the moisture content of tea leaf is generally higher than ordinary high mountain tea, the withering process of Spring Oriental Beauty takes a much longer time. With a longer withering period, it accelerates hydrolysis and oxidation process which will in turn generate the typical sweet flavor and taste of Spring Oriental Beauty. The tea leaves are then tossed onto a bamboo tray. This agitation and tossing, causes friction which in turn causes the tea leaves to start fermentation. The tray is then placed on a rack and these processes are repeated several times. This is called fermentation. Tea leaves gets oxidation mediated by the oxidative enzyme when the tea leaves get bruised. The fermentation of Spring Oriental Beauty takes a longer time than that of ordinary oolong teas. As the tea leaves are tender and fragile, the process is carried out in a very gentle manner. Once the tea master finds that fermentation is sufficiently achieved, the tea leaves are then sent for heat treatment in order to arrest further fermentation. If this is not carried out swiftly, the tea leaves will keep on fermenting and it will finally turn into black tea.
The number of rotation and timing of fermentation is judged based on the moisture content, flavor and color of tea leaves. This decision requires top-notch experienced tea technicians and it affects the quality of tea tremendously. All technicians follow the instruction of a tea master. In order to get good quality tea, we need to pick out an excellent tea master.
At first, tea leaves are rolled by a rolling machine. For Spring Oriental Beauty, the bag rolling is not carried out so as to protect the tea leaves from cracking. Strong rolling process may destroy the tea leaves and it causes bitterness, astringency and impure taste. Thus rolling process is traditionally conducted under moderate pressure and motion. During the rolling process, the temperature of tea leaves drop and it become brittle. The tea leaves are then heated in a drum at 60-80 degree Celsius to soften it. If the pressure of rolling is too hard, tea leaves will generate a different taste; on the other hand, if it is too soft, tea leaves gives much weaker taste. The same sequence is repeated several times. Each parameter is varied depending on the condition of tea leaves such as the moisture content. The skilled tea master has to carefully examine the condition of tea leaves and apply the suitable method in each process. It requires a great deal of precision and expertise.
After this rolling process is completed, the tea leaves are dried and this will reduce the moisture content down to 5%.
5. Quality Inspection Method
Outlook of Tea Leaf:
All twigs consist of one white bud and two leaves. The leaf of Spring Oriental Beauty is very colorful and beautiful.
Tea leaves shown here have different colors, namely red, white, yellow, green and brown. In particular, the while bud is very noticeable. It is because the size of the twig is very small. When tea leaf has matured, it becomes less green and usually the color changes to red.
Good quality tea consists of tea leaves with consistent size and shape. The same shape indicates that good technique in tea making process is practiced and good material is used.
There are no foreign materials such as fiber, bamboo, piece of wood, sand or stone.
It gives a very strong fruity flavor. When you drink it, you will be able to detect a flowery flavor.
Bright and transparent, in golden yellowish and orange color
It is very smooth, mellow and has a sweet after taste.
Brewed Tea Leaf:
Tea leaf consists of 1 bud and 2 leaves. Usually, high end quality tea has loose leaves as the leaves are extensively attacked by insects which in turn weaken the tea leaves and easily drop off. The size of the twig must be smaller which indicates an early batch of harvesting. The tea leaves harvested in the late season are much bigger and the intensity of flavor is weak.
Comparison between Spring Oriental Beauty and Oriental Beauty
It is the photo comparing Spring Oriental Beauty (Left) and Oriental Beauty (Right). The earlier the harvest season, the smaller the size of tea leaves. The small size is one of the factors indicating premium quality. Our Oriental Beauty on the right is harvested in June. Looking at the tea leaves, the color and size is very consistent. This shows that it is a very good quality tea, yet it is far different from Spring Oriental Beauty. Spring Oriental Beauty is harvested much earlier. Therefore the size of tea leaves is extremely small and slightly greenish. When tea has matured, the color is changed to a more red color which resembles black tea.
6. Recommended Brewing Method
Many customers are afraid of brewing oolong tea as it seems very difficult. However it is not that difficult once you understand the theory.
At first, bring water to a boil. Use soft water for preparation of tea. The water processed by distillation or reversed osmosis is not suitable for brewing tea. These water contain no minerals and it will cause tea to become tasteless. If normal tap water is used, it is advisable to use a filter. Boil the water just before brewing tea. It is very important to boil water so as to evaporate the chlorine and other types of contaminated substance in the water. Do not continue boiling for more than a few minuets as it will rather concentrate the mineral and the character of water may be converted to hard water.
In order to enjoy oolong tea, always ensure that the water temperature is very hot. Use boiling water and rinse tea pot with boiling water to keep it hot.
Brewing Method 1
Best is to use red clay teapot or use a glass or porcelain tea pot. Purple clay teapot is not suitable as it make flavor too smooth.
Brewing Method 2
Pour boiling water into the tea pot and fill up to 70%. This is to heat up the tea pot. If the pot is not warmed up, the temperature of water will drops drastically when a cold tea pot is used for brewing tea. This will affect the taste and flavor of tea.
Brewing Method 3
After 20 seconds, remove hot water from the warmed tea pot into the pitcher to warm it up.
Brewing Method 4
Usually 1g is equivalent to 50ml of water. For the small tea pot of 200ml, about 4g of tea leaves is sufficient, which can be measured by 1 table spoons.
Brewing Method 5
This photo shows the inspection plate which is convenient for placing tea leaves.
Brewing Method 6
Place the tea leaves into the warmed tea pot. It is important not to touch the tea leaves in order to avoid contamination of odor.
Brewing Method 7
The photo shows the tea leaves inside the tea pot. The tea leaves almost covers the bottom part of tea pot.
Brewing Method 8
Pour in the hot water at 70 degree C. When pouring water, keep water flow as gentle as you can in order not to agitate tea leaves. Rinsing is not required for this tea.
Brewing Method 9
Gently place the lid and leave it for 55 seconds.
Brewing Method 10
In the mean time, pour off the hot water from the pitcher into the glass to warm it up.
Brewing Method 11
When the tea is ready, pour it into the pitcher at a lower position. If the tea is directly served into several tea cups, pour the tea into each cup alternately to equalize the concentration of tea in each cup. For a beginner, it is easier to use a pitcher.
Brewing Method 12
Pour tea into a pitcher completely until the last drop which is most concentrated. It is important to keep the tea leaves without liquor before subsequent brewing. Steeping the tea leaves in hot water will caused excessive extraction of polyphenol and tannin which gives an astringent and bitter taste. Make sure keep the lid off.
Brewing Method 13
Pour out the hot water from the glass.
Brewing Method 14
Pour tea from the right end which is supposed to be served to the guest. The one on the left is for the host.
Brewing Method 15
For this exclusive tea, serving with a lesser quantity is better as you could truly enjoy its flavor.
Brewing Method 16
This tea is very clear and transparent. It is elegant and classy to serve it using a crystal glass.
Brewing Method 17
Here we introduce the serving of tea using a glass. It is also elegant to use the dainty English tea cup or China tea ware.
Brewing Method 18
The leaves shown here lies on the professional inspection cup. If the tea leaves are of good quality, the brewed leaves give a strong flavor as well. This indicates that good material is being used.
Storage of tea leaves
Recommended Storage Method
Avoid direct sunshine, high temperature and humid environment. Keep the tea leaves at a well-ventilated place. Spring Oriental Beauty will undergo further maturation if it is being kept in an ambient atmosphere. It will be more fragrant and sweet. Usually tea leaf can be kept even more than 5 years. But it will be delicious enough after being kept for a few years. Due to the very low moisture content of tea leaves, it can easily absorb the odor from its storage environment. Therefore it is important to ensure the bag is tightly sealed.
Usually further maturation of tea leaves will increase its flavor and sweet taste while its aroma becomes weaker. In Taiwan, Spring Oriental Beauty that has been kept for a long period of time is highly prized.
Special Storage Method
If you wish to maintain its taste as when it was purchased, the tea leaves have to be kept in the fridge. Due to the low temperature, tea leaves do not undergo further maturation and you can enjoy the same taste, aroma and flavor for a longer time. In addition, it is important to ensure the bag is tightly sealed to avoid cross contamination of odor from the environment. Before opening the bag, it is better to warm it up to room temperature so as to avoid condensation.