Good morning, dear tea friends! Last week I enjoyed a lightly oxidized Chinese Oolong, called Huang Jin Gui, for my morning tea. This week I’ve chosen another Chinese Oolong, however, this tea’s leaves have been oxidized for a longer period of time. Its name is Eastern Beauty. I love to compare and contrast teas. Let’s get started!
First, the leaves look very different from one another. Whereas the Huang Jin Gui is greener (less oxidized) and rolled into “bundles”, the Eastern Beauty‘s leaf is darker (more oxidized) and looks more like leaf to me.
What does it mean for a tea leaf to be oxidized anyway? Well, after the leaves are plucked and allowed to wither to remove moisture, they are bruised by rolling, tossing or shaking. This starts the oxidation process, which enzymatically breaks down the leaf’s chlorophyll, causing the leaf to darken. One of my colleagues likens it to a cut apple turning brown. When exposed to oxygen, the cut apple turns brown. Tea leaf does, too.
Last week’s Huang Jin Gui Oolong tea is oxidized under 20%, which is a short time. I honestly don’t know how long this Eastern Beauty Oolong has been oxidized but I would guess longer, about 40-50% or more. I have read that Formosa Eastern Beauty Oolong is oxidized for 70% but this tea doesn’t taste that dark. It’s definitely darker than the lightly oxidized Oolong though.
I took 2 shots to show you how enormous and intact this leaf is. Not only does it have the “bud” (the little baby leaves), there are 2 larger leaves, all attached to the same stem. Wow!
Isn’t that an amazing leaf?!!
I spooned 2 teaspoons of leaf into my small glass teapot and steeped for 4 minutes in 190F water. The fragrant aroma smelled of rich, dark honey.
The tea liquor is a glowing orange-y gold. The flavor has a pronounced honey note with hints of nuts, like walnuts, and a whisper of fruit. It’s rich and smooth and has a mouth feel like nectar. I didn’t find any floral notes at all in this tea as was so pronounced in the lighter Oolong last week. So, flavor – honey and nuts vs floral. These teas, while both China Oolongs, are very different in both appearance and in flavor.
That was a fun comparison! Which tea do I like better, you might be asking? Actually, I like them both equally as well because of their differences.
Next Saturday I’m going down the Cape to visit my friend in Hyannis and we’re doing the “Hyannis Stroll” for the holidays. See you in two weeks!