Tillerman Tea Bai Hao (Oriental Beauty) Summer 2017
Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: dark, twisted with scattered white tips
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: dark amber
It’s been a little over a year since I’ve written about an oriental beauty here on the blog. Funnily enough, I consider it one of my favorite oolongs but only a few have ever been sent to me for review. I think a large part of that has to do with the fact that there is actually very little authentic O.B. produced every year.
The name Bai Hao refers to the white bud tips scattered throughout the darker leaves. Another crucial part of this tea’s processing involves the leaves being bitten by insects before harvesting. I know that might sound gross but trust me, when it comes to tea bug spit can make things exponentially more delicious! Their nibbles start the oxidation process before the leaves are even plucked.
The dry leaf of this tea was quite beautiful to look at. They were wiry and twisted with varied shades of brown with touches of red and even an almost purple hue. I can’t help but think of autumn leaves when I look at them (even though it was harvested in Summer). Oriental Beauty is sometimes called “five color oolong” for that reason.
After brewing, I was immediately entranced by the honey-like aroma and beautiful dark amber color of the liquor. That was echoed in the taste along with floral notes and hints of ripe peach. Later infusions developed a woody taste that took the forefront, though the floral and fruity flavors were definitely still present. There was a touch of astringency but no more than would be characteristic of this type of tea.
This oriental beauty performed equally well when brewed with a gaiwan and in a more western style. Multiple infusions are a must in both cases. This is the first tea I’ve reviewed from Tillerman Tea but regular readers might recognize their founder David from the comment section of the blog. He’s really great about engaging with the online community, something I wish more tea company owners would do!