All hail the Queen! The queen of teas that is. Everything about this tea shouts royalty. Unfortunately, the dry smell isn’t coming through due to cross contamination from another tea but the wet smell more then makes up for the loss. In the first 30 seconds of steeping an aroma blossoms from the leaves that is borderline heavenly. One would think they infused rose oil into the leaves. It’s so floral it almost hides the earthy tones.
The essence extracted from the leaves in the water, aka the flavor is truly unique. Floral and fruity notes with a honey finish. Considering that it’s 70% oxidized, I’m surprised that the earthy tones are so mellow. The surprises keep hitting with this tea. I’ve tried it hot, luke-warm, and cold and find the flavor notes do best right in the middle.
Oolongs are truly one of those tea types that are not well known enough the USA. If you are a first time tea drinker you generally start off with something that isn’t even tea [to be considered tea it has to have the camellia sinensis leaf in it]. These are generally called herbals or tisanes. They then will most likely try blacks like English breakfast or scented greens like Jasmine. It’s not until you really dive deeper into the world of tea that you discover oolongs. Even the world of oolong is intense. The type of oolong you get depends on how much it is oxidized. As I said before this tea (Bai Hao) is 70% oxidized and thus is closer to the black tea spectrum. If you truly want to branch out into the tea world or just want to discover more about oolongs and you don’t know where to start, this is a good tea to begin with.
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Tillerman Tea
One of the few high grade teas to be harvested in the summer, this tea, first known as “Bai Hao” in Taiwan, reminds us a bit of a superior first flush Darjeeling. We are not the only ones to think so; the story (certainly apocryphal) goes that Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, enjoyed this tea so much that, when she ran out of her Darjeeling, she dubbed this the “Oriental Beauty.” This was subsequently translated back into Chinese as “Dong Fang Mei Ren” Multi-colored twisted leaves mixed with an abundance of silver furry tips gives this tea its visual appeal. The unique flavor profile results from the way this plant develops. The tea green leaf hopper attacks the young developing bud in the spring causing it to wither on the branch. The lower leaves are harvested in the summer with the withered “white tip” attached. This tea is organically grown in Hsinchu County in Taiwan. For anyone who likes a fruity malty tea like Darjeeling with an intriguing honey note, this is a great alternative. After all, if it was good enough for the Queen. . .
Grower: Hsu Sheng Fu Dashi
Cultivar: Qing Xin Da Pan
Region: Emei, Hsinchu
Harvest: Summer 2016
Use between 3-5 grams of tea. This is a wiry leaf so practice is required. Pour 195°F (90° C) over the leaves and steep for 1 minute. Always remember to adjust steeping time depending on water temperature, amount of tea you have and personal flavor preference. Increase time and temperature slightly with each infusion.