Oriental Beauty – Tea as fair as a lady from the east
Apart from the romantic title, this tea is also called ”bluffing tea”. It is originally from Taiwan, grown and produced in certain small mountain areas. Jacobiasca formosana – also known as small tea green leafhopper, is a kind of insect that eats up fresh newly grown tea leaves. Usually tea farmers would put efforts into getting rid of them, however, it is the key to making Oriental Beauty.
When the leafhopper feeds on tea trees, its saliva remains on the leaves, similar to mosquito bites on humans. The bites cause newly grown tea leaves to turn brown and curl up, which cannot be fully grown anymore. This triggers the tree to discharge Jasmonic acid as protection, to attract Evarcha Albaria, a tiny spider which is a predator of the leafhoppers. A chemical reaction begins once the saliva and Jasmonic acid mix together, which creates the unique fruity aroma of Oriental Beauty with a hint of honey scent.
Both the leafhopper and spider need an extremely clean non-polluted environment to thrive in, pesticides are definitely not allowed. Additionally, Oriental Beauty is only harvested within 7 days after the new sprouts start growing. It is fully hand-plucked. It is a highly labor intensive work, because only a very limited amount of sprouts can be collected. This explains why this tea is not only special but also very high quality and safe to drink without concerns about chemicals.
Oriental Beauty also has another name : Champagne Oolong. Put a drop or two of cognac into the tea while serving, the aroma from both drinks compliments each other even more. It is very suitable for making both cold and hot brew tea. This tea is very delicate. The most suitable brewing temperature is 80 to 90°C.
There is an interesting story about how the names “Oriental Beauty” and “bluffing tea” came to be. Please see “Was ‘the beauty from the Orient’ a bluff?” from Tea Info – Fun & Facts.