Oolong "Taiwan Oriental Beauty" or "Dong Fang Mei Ren / Dongfang Meiren" (from China Tea Book))

Taiwan Oriental Beauty Tea, also known as Dongfang Meiren Tea, is one of the famous teas in Taiwan. It is also called Pong Fong Tea, Pong Fong Oolong, or White-Tipped Oolong Tea. It originates from Beipu Township in Hsinchu County, Taiwan, as well as from the Emei region and Toufen in Miaoli County. Beipu Township is adjacent to Emei Township in Hsinchu and is located between 24°37'~24°42/ north latitude and 120°57'~121°02/ east longitude. It has a subtropical maritime climate with an average annual temperature of 23°C, an annual rainfall of 2003 millimeters, and a relative humidity of 81%. The winters and springs are damp and cold with fog, and the main tea-producing areas are surrounded by mountains on three sides, consisting mostly of hills and mountains with soil types including red soil and yellow soil, which are suitable for tea tree cultivation. The tea tree varieties used to produce Taiwanese oolong tea include Qingxin Da Mao, White-haired Monkey, Tai Tea No. 5, Hard Stem Red Heart, as well as Big Leaf Oolong, Red Heart Da Mao, and Yellow Heart Oolong. Due to its unique natural environment nurtured by the mountains and rivers, the tea quality is excellent.

In the tea areas of Emei Township and Beipu Township, around the time of the Dragon Boat Festival in the lunar calendar, the buds of Qingxin Da Mao tea trees are damaged by the tea green leaf cicadas. After being handpicked one bud and two leaves or one bud and three leaves, they are refined into high-grade oolong tea using traditional handcrafted techniques. The appearance of the tea leaves is characterized by obvious white tips, displaying colors of white, green, yellow, red, and brown, presenting a vibrant and colorful appearance. Due to its high quality, unique flavor, and limited quantity, it commands a higher price than other teas and is favored by tea connoisseurs. It is thus given the elegant name "Pong Fong Tea." Because a higher quantity of white tips is desired for better quality, it is also called "White-Tipped Oolong." Legend has it that in the 20th century, Oriental Beauty Tea was presented to the Queen of England by British merchants. The queen was amazed by its exquisite fragrance and its appearance resembling a beautiful woman from the East, hence the name "Oriental Beauty."

The manufacturing process of high-quality Taiwanese oolong Oriental Beauty Tea requires one bud and two leaves as the standard for fresh tea leaves. The initial processing involves withering under sunlight or warming, indoor withering and conditioning (resting and stirring), frying, softening, rolling, initial drying, and baking. The above processes are similar to those of ball-rolled oolong tea, but with the addition of the "softening" step after frying.

The withering and conditioning of Taiwanese oolong tea under sunlight or warming lasts longer and is more intense. The tea leaves lose their gloss, become wavy and raised, and the tender stems show wrinkles on the surface. The heart buds and the first leaves become soft and droop, with a moderate weight loss of 20%-28%. The stirring and spreading are carried out alternately. From the third time onwards, more force is applied, and the duration is longer. The tea buds turn silver-gray, and 1/3-2/3 of the leaves turn reddish-brown, with the appearance of a ripe fruit aroma being moderate. The weight loss is between 30%-40%. The frying temperature of oolong tea is lower than that of ball-rolled tea, fried until the grassy smell disappears, emitting a ripe fruit aroma, the tea buds turn silver-white, and there is a slight prickly sensation when holding the leaves. The weight loss is between 40%-50%. After the fried leaves are removed from the pan, they are wrapped in a damp cloth soaked in clear water for 10-20 minutes to make the leaves soft and free of prickly sensation, known as "softening." The rolling process for oolong tea is short, with attention paid to maintaining the integrity of the buds and leaves, and excessive force should be avoided. The drying operation is carried out in two stages. The initial stage is at a temperature of 105°C-110°C, lasting 35 minutes, followed by air cooling for 30-60 minutes. The subsequent drying stage is at a temperature of 85°C-95°C, lasting 40-60 minutes.

High-quality Taiwanese Oriental Beauty Tea has robust tea buds with prominent white tips, short tea strips, and a vibrant mix of red, yellow, and white colors. The tea soup has a bright amber-orange color, the bottom of the leaves is light brown with red edges, the base of the leaves is light green, the leaves are intact, and the buds and leaves are connected.

The quality characteristics of Taiwanese oolong Oriental Beauty Tea (White-Tipped Oolong Tea, Pong Fong Oolong) mainly include the appearance of red-brown, yellow, green, and white tips, a bright amber-orange soup color, a honey-like elegant aroma, a mellow taste, smooth mouthfeel, and the leaves unfurl completely with bright orange-red buds, showing a vibrant appearance. It is acclaimed as the "Champagne of Oolong Tea" in the international market for its unique fragrance and beautiful color. Adding a drop of brandy to the tea soup enhances its flavor.

Taiwanese oolong tea was first exported from Danshui in 1865, and in 1869, British merchant John Dodd established a factory in Taiwan to refine oolong tea for export to the United States. By 1872, there were up to five foreign merchants exporting oolong tea from Taiwan. This period marked the heyday of Taiwanese oolong tea. In 1895, Japan occupied Taiwan and vigorously promoted oolong tea. From 1895 to 1919, during the 24 years, the annual export volume remained between 14 million to 15 million pounds, mainly to the United States. In 1920, the American market was dominated by Indian, Ceylon, and Java black teas, replacing oolong tea, and oolong tea exports declined sharply. By 1941, when Japan launched the Pacific War and maritime shipping was disrupted, oolong tea exports almost came to a halt. After Taiwan's return to the motherland in 1945, the authorities made efforts to revive the industry. Currently, ball-rolled oolong tea and loose-leaf oolong tea remain the main categories of Taiwanese tea for export, with sales volumes relatively stable.

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