Exploring & Comparing Dongfang Meiren
In this episode we go into detail about how this tea plant grows, how it's harvested, what makes it unique and learn about some of the flavors this tea is known for. We also compare two different grades from the same farm to really show different qualities and flavors from similar material.
What is Dongfang Meiren?
Dongfang Meiren, also known as Baihao oolong/white tip oolong/oriental or eastern beauty is a highly oxidized oolong originating in Taiwan.
What makes Dongfang Meiren so unique?
This tea is harvested in the summer when the green leafhopper find its way to the tea plants and begins biting them. This causes a chemical reaction within the leaf and leads to substances being released that gives this tea its signature sweetness. Pesticides are avoided during the growing season to attract these little bugs - if they aren’t biting the leaves, it’s not true Dongfang Meiren.
[Correction: not all pesticides necessarily need to be avoided - just the ones that may prevent the leafhoppers from doing their business. Dongfang Meiren may still have pesticide use in some farms.]
Dongfang Meiren is also typically harvested with a picking standard of one bud and two leaves, as opposed to the 3-5 leaves common among other oolongs. The bud content of this tea produces a more delicate taste than other highly oxidized oolongs.
What does Dongfang Meiren taste like?
Eastern beauty should always have a predominant sweetness as a result of the leafhopper bites. Floral notes such as rose are common as well, with an elegant and perfume-like aroma and flavor despite the heavy oxidation. Lower quality samples may have deeper or earthier flavors, with less sweetness and fewer floral notes.
Why is Dongfang Meiren so expensive?
Authentic Dongfang Meiren is expensive because the growing, harvesting and processing is so restrictive. It can only be harvested in the summer, only up to 2 leaves are used (less product per plant), the leaves must be bitten (not every leaf in a garden will be bitten), the leaves take longer to process than most other oolongs and are more delicate, and finally it is a very famous tea. So good ones will be more expensive, and there will be tons of fakes and not-so-good ones as well.