Monday, April 14, 2008

A Beautiful Tea!

The more I drink tea, the more I don't know about it.... I felt like a kindergardener over this weekend tasting a Taiwanese tea. The range of grades not just puzzling, but at the very less, amazing. This is a generous gift from a Taiwanese Sculptor. His knowledge of fine tea/tea-wares elevated me to a whole new level. The first time I had a competition grade Oriental beauty, was 7 years ago in Taipei. The mere difference of what I known of OB and what the taste of that cup, troubled and angered me. "What the crap OB have I been drinking for all these year!"

Oriental Beauty suppose to be a summer harvest. But this specimen show only tender shoot. All fresh shoots, no teenage of adult leaf at all! How delicate this harvest must be! Picking only shoots in the summer time and processing with extra afford. My mind can only speculate with wonder.

The taste is pure honey plum, muscat, Champaign, perfume. Long lasting sweeting in the back of the throat. Round and full but soft mouth feel. The brew started from light to dark and light again. All in all, more then 12 cups of spectacular color changes. Beautiful Beauty!


Salsero said...

I am sure the tea is as wonderful as you describe it, but the photos are spectacular, and you drink with your eyes first.

TeaMasters said...

Top grade Oriental Beauty is closer to perfume, indeed. It's almost magic. It's so good that I usually brew it light with fewer leaves. But I use a silver teapot to get the highest temperature possible and get more out those precious and hard buds.

MarshalN said...

Hmmm, looks nice

"The more I drink tea the more I don't know about it" definitely sounds about right.

One problem with drinking good tea --- it's hard to go back.

Wes Crosswhite said...

Hah! Great quote Sal!

The pictures really are wonderful; I feel as if I've been treated to a great artist's perception of a tea session.

Of all the oolongs I've tried, I think I rate OB among the top few. If you find you've developed an addiction to the stuff, and maybe find a good source online, let us know!


toki said...

salsero - Of course! Visual art is my life : )

Thanks Stephane. This one is truly magical. What kind of tea plant is OB really? Jade, four season...?

You are so right-on Marshain. The scary part is, once you tried the small high quality production farmers. You really cannot get away from it. But sadly Wes, you can't get this stuff on-line.

I think the problem is, if the farmer is selling these for $3 per gram. What will the vendor charge....

TeaMasters said...

There are several tea trees that can be used to make Oriental Beauty. But the most traditional and best choice, I think, is Qingxin Dapa. That's what they have been using mostly in Hsin Chu county.

I wrote quite a detailed article about Oriental Beauty on September 20, 2007. There are some pictures of the tea fields and leaves. In the article, I also showed 2 grades of OB. The first is quite good, but the second I called 'perfect' because it was. You will see that it also contains only buds, like yours. It was part of my price list for some time, but is now sold out. (I was selling it by packs of 12 grams because of the high price and because the available quantity was so small!)

toki said...

Thanks Stephane for the details. Again, your article is always interesting with helpful first person experience! This one is from High altitude Ping Lin area. I am more than happy to swap a sample with you, only if my 'Guan-Xi' still works in your book : ) -toki

TeaMasters said...

Your guanxi tea still work and so it's my pleasure to write these lines as I'm drinking this Beautiful Tea! I have brewed approximately half of what you sent me in my silver teapot. I'm letting it brew for several minutes each brew. And I must agree with you that it's of the highest grade. It's a tea that can take the heat without displaying any unpleasant taste or aroma. Very long, fine and subtle. I think you will find its structure and grade quite similar to my 'perfect' OB.

The main difference lies in the aromas. First, your dry leaves are very hairy. This and the fragrance point to a different cultivar. I've encountered a similar (albeit from a lower grade) Wenshan OB before: the Mao Ho (Hairy Monkey) OB. The smell of Mao Ho is a little bit more old fashioned, less flamboyant and perfume like. It has more a forest and dry automn leaves smell, I feel. It's a little bit more masculine and complex than the OB I sent you.

Again, thank you very much for this sample. I hope now that you'll enjoy my leaves as much as I'm still enjoying yours.


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