I’ve been drinking two different “oriental beauties”: Norbu’s Bai Yun (which is also Yunnan Sourcing’s “Wild Arbor Oriental Beauty”) and Hou De’s Taiwan Bei-Pu Bai Hao. Norbu’s is a Yunnan varietal made by Taiwanese tea masters who brought their Bai Hao skills to Wu Liang mountain. Hou De’s is the classic Taiwan oolong, harvested in the summer in the humid, foggy, northern part of Taiwan, after the legandary little bugs have poked holes in the tea leaves, provoking the plants into a juicy protest that produces more intense flavors.
Both versions of the tea have a beautiful, autumnal mixture of dry leaves — mahogany, golden brown, and the “white hairs” of the name.
Beginning with a half full pot of dry leaves, I brewed at 200+ degrees for 2+ minutes. Golden amber cup. Though honey is definitely present, it was not so pronounced as in the Norbu cultivar. And rather than berries, the taste was more of mild stone fruit, nectarines I would say, with lycee nuts. In the first and second infusions, I distinctly detected a mysteriously sweet pine. This tea is rounder and “wider” in my mouth, whereas the Yunnan varietal sent some bright vertical tracers up toward my nose. I find this tea generally round and horizontally mellow, whereas the Norbu perhaps asked for my attention a bit more. But it could also be that I tasted this second, after drinking an entire pot of the Norbu first.
The wet leaves show the quality of the processing, with little bundles of stems and leaves intact. They are an extraordinary golden-purple-red that are even more beautiful in my pin zi ni purple pot. My guess is that this tea is less oxidized than the Yunnan, with no roasting.
I found both these teas rewardingly complex. I intend to do another tasting, tasting the two in the opposite order.
Taiwan Bei-Pu Bai Hao
Regarded as the genuine “Taiwan oolong”, unlike tie guan yin, bao zhong or dong-ding whose making skills were originated from China, the making skill of Bai Hao was originated in Taiwan. The tea makers’ wisdom to turn the summer-harvested leaves after tender leaves being sucked by tiny leafhoppers (Cicadellidae) into highly praised and pursued teas is one of the most marvelous tea romances.
This batch of Bai Hao is the newest 2010 harvest in Bei Pu of Shin-Zhu county, Taiwan.
The dry leaves consist of lovely green, white and brown/dark red colors, with very elegant and slim twisted stripe shape.