Dong Fang Mei Ren (東方美人/Eastern Beauty) is perhaps the most esteemed and
prestigious oolong tea in the world. It is a style of tea with many names, including Bai Hao (白 毫/White Hair /Tip in reference its many tiny fuzzy white leaf buds) or “Champagne Oolong,” but Dong Fang Mei Ren is the name most often used in Taiwan’s tea market currently.
In an often repeated but almost certainly untrue legend, Queen Victoria is said to have dubbed this indisputably majestic, unique, and costly tea “Oriental Beauty.”
This particular tea came from the Emei Township, Hsinchu County Dong Fang Mei Ren
competition, which was held from July 14-18, 2020. This competition is held only once a year in the Summer, and all entries are judged/ranked in phases by two separate panels of professional, government certified judges. There are usually around 1,000 individual batch entries of 7.2 KG (12 Jin) each in the Emei competition, and the rankings are arranged with an overall Champion (a single 7.2 KG batch), followed by first, second, and third classes/ranks, and then by Three Plum Blossoms and Two Plum Blossoms.
The class/grade of the tea on offer here is “Two Plum Blossoms,” which means it placed in the lower half of the top 50-55% of all entries. Local and international demand for competition Dong Fang Mei Ren is extremely high, so we were very pleased (and lucky) that we were able to secure a tea of this caliber for our clients here. Higher award classes can be sourced on request (depending on availability), but prices rise sharply depending on the award class and amount desired.
Tea from this specific competition in Hsinchu is the most highly sought after since it comes from the exact area (with its ideal terroir) that gave rise to the development of this unique style of tea sometime in the late 1800’s. Batches of all ranked grades/classes from this competition are always of excellent quality in the cup, and all Dong Fang Mei Ren competition-ranked entries represent exceptional examples of tea making artistry performed in harmony with a unique quirk of nature.
Dry Leaf: very small open-leaf clusters; many tiny fuzzy white buds; aroma is pronounced and musky with a hint of golden raisins
Wet Leaf- beautiful, uniform little leaf clusters; pronounced musky/fruity aroma
Infusion: crystal clear amber liquor; musk, honey, fruit notes in the nose
Taste: brisk and crisp; marked muscatel flavor; notes of honey, bright citrus, and dried
stone fruit (peach or apricot); low but very pleasant astringency; long-lasting musky,
Note: brewed Gong-Fu style using 8 grams of leaf in 150ml gaiwan with water just off the boil (210F) due to personal preference for making this tea bold and strong in the cup. Some/many people might prefer to brew this tea cooler (185-195F) to produce a less strong cup.
About Dong Fang Mei Ren:
Dong Fang Mei Ren is produced only from tea leaves that have been affected by the bites of a tiny (2-3mm) insect known as a Leafhopper or Tea Jassid (scientific names: Jacobiasca Formosana in Taiwan, Empoasca Vitis in Mainland China, or Empoasca Onukii in Japan), which tend to infest tea farms in the relatively low elevation hills (500-1000 meters) of Hsinchu county during the hot, humid summer months. Tea Jassids feed on the juices from the most tender, newest-growth stems, leaves, and buds of the tea plants, and their bites cause slight yellowing of the foliage, curling of the leaves, stunted growth resulting in physically smaller, thicker leaves and buds, and also cause the plants to create and emit a set of unique aromatic compounds.
People tend to perceive these aromatic compounds as a pleasing fragrance in the fields, and that perfumy aroma is a significant portion of what comes through
as the famous musky, citrusy, and honeyed aromas in a cup of the finished tea. The science is still out on what function these aromatic compounds truly serve, but they are thought to be a defensive chemical intended to deter further Jassid infestation, and/or some believe that the aroma is an attractant to some types of spiders that feed on Tea Jassids.