My travels yesterday took me to Miao Li and Hsin Chu County where Oriental Beauty oolong teas are grown and produced.
First stop was a delightful restaurant in Hsin Chu. The restaurant was part of a tea garden, tea factory and tea retail shop. Many of the smaller tea growers (3000 - 5000kg or less) produce their own teas then sell them through their own retail stores. The local tea competitions have been an important factor in driving awareness and business to these small growers, but this is a topic that deserves its own blog entry.
After lunch, my host and I were treated to a sampling of the gardens award winning teas. The tea was prepared gonfu style by Mr Ku, who at 21 is a third generation tea producer. Their garden produces approximately 1,500kg of oriental beauty per year. It is all sold via their retail tea shop.
Next stop was in Miao Li county to meet with Tea Master Deng. He grows and produces the Plum Blossom oolong that we are crazy about.
Master Deng has won 18 Oriental Beauty tea competitions during his career. He generously prepared a 1st place and 3rd place Oriental Beauty for us. Once again gongfu style. The taste of ripe fruit, honey and a slight wood note (considered smoky by my host) coupled with an exceptional mouth feel were amazing and were prominent through the 8th infusion. I lost count after that. I've posted a little unedited video clip shot with my iPhone.
Master Deng produces approximately 1000kg of Oriental Beauty per year. Most of this tea is purchased locally due to his reputation based on his competitive successes.
Last stop of the day was in Hsin Chu to visit Tea Master Hsu. He produces the Oriental Beauty that we offer at Teas Etc. Like most of the small grower/producers, he supports his tea sales with a retail outlet. I had the privilege to cup several outstanding Oriental Beauties. Now comes the hard part, which one to source and offer our customers.
Tomorrow I'm off to Pin-Lin in the Wen-Shan area in search of Bao Zhong and then on to Yi-Lan to visit and cup high mountain oolongs.
More to follow