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oriental beauty
Most people associate Taiwan oolong tea as a lightly fermented tea, which is often called as high mountain tea. Nevertheless, there is one distinctive oolong called Oriental Beauty, which has a completely different characteristic from other Taiwan oolong teas. The Oriental Beauty is a deeply fermented tea. If you take a look at its tea leaves, the colour is very similar to that of a black tea. Although its appearance is more like black tea, based on the sequences in tea processing the Oriental Beauty is still categorized as the oolong tea group.

Black Tea

Withering >> Rolling >> Fermentation >> Heating to stop fermentation

Oriental Beauty

Withering & Fermentation >> Heating to stop fermentation >> Rolling

Due to the sequence in the process, the Oriental Beauty is technically categorized as oolong tea.

The muscatel flavour that reminds you of Muscat wine

The main character of Oriental Beauty is its distinctive muscatel flavour. In Chinese, the flavour of Oriental Beauty is called as Mi Xiang which means honey flavour. In my opinion, the flavour of Oriental Beauty quite resembles to those late-harvested wines such as Ice Wine.

Do you know how this muscatel flavour is made?
The material being used for the Oriental Beauty itself is not the same as the rest of Taiwan high mountain oolong teas. No matter how much skill the tea master has, they cannot produce this muscatel flavour if they use ordinary tea leaves. Hence, if the farmer wishes to produce the Oriental Beauty, he has to collect a special type of tea leaves.

The tea leaf of oriental beauty

The Oriental Beauty is made of the tea leaves attacked by little green insects

To make this distinctive flavour of Oriental Beauty, the farmers have to collect the tea leaves that were attacked by tiny little green flies.
The green fly

This insect is called the Empoasca onukiiMATSUDA and it is called 小緑葉蝉 in Chinese; sometime in Taiwan local tea farmers it is more commonly known as 小绿叶蝉. It is the tea green leafhopper, a common pest in tea garden. For most of other ordinary tea farmers, this insect is their pest; but, to produce Oriental Beauty, this insect is “precious” and essential. The tea garden must never be sprayed with any insecticide. Once the tea leaves are attacked by this insect, yellow spots will appear on the surface of the tea leaves; and, with further attack by this green insect, the tea leaves would turn as yellow as a banana skin. Thus, the growth of the tea leaves is suppressed with the intensive attack of this insect, which is why they are not welcomed in most of the ordinary tea gardens. Due to the attacks of the insects, these tea leaves will produce a substance called phytoalexin that is part of their self-defense mechanism (acts like an antibody for human). This substance (phytoalexin) is produced by plants when attacked by any pests such as insects or microorganisms. The phytoalexin of Oriental Beauty is called Terpenoid which is in a group called terpene; this substance generally gives a sweet fragrance. The terpene also exists in rose, citrus fruits and is a common substance found in various kinds of perfume. Furthermore, the main compound in insect repellents is also the various types of terpene. For example, it is said that mosquitos dislike the fragrance of lemon or lemon grass, which are also terpene. However for human, we generally are attracted to the fragrance of terpene. The terpene is produced when the self-defense mechanism of plants are triggered, protecting them against the attack of green insects. According to some researches, the substance being produced in responding to the insect attack is (3E,6S)‐2,6‐ Dimethylocta‐3,7‐diene‐2,6‐diol. This substance will be further oxidized and form hotrienol during fermentation and subsequent heating process. This would be the primary substance that contributes to the muscatel flavour of Oriental Beauty. If without the important role played by green flies, we wouldn’t be able to have had this distinctive muscatel flavour in tea.

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