Dongfang Meiren "Oriental Beauty"
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The origin of this tea is embedded in folklore. The prevailing story dates back to the 1930s when a farmer who had traveled returned to his tea plantation only to find it infested with insects. Not willing to waste his crop, he harvested it anyway and to his surprise, the processed leaves produced an exceptional aroma. His nearby tea merchant was equally impressed and offered him double the usual price. When the farmer came back to his village to share his achievement, no one wanted to believe him and thought he was bragging. Hence, in the local Hakka dialect, this tea is called Peng Feng or Pong Fong, which translates to Huff and Puff and otherwise known as Braggart's Tea.
Whether true or not, this story is perhaps the first successful case of producing an insect-bite tea, and has since opened up a whole category of teas gathered under the designation Mi Xiang, which means Honey Scent. The little bug is now known as Jacobiasca formosana, also known as the green leaf aphid or tea jassid. It sucks phloem juices from plants, which in turn triggers a self-defense mechanism in the plant by producing phytoalexins, specifically terpenes, and among these hotrienol. Terpenes have a dual function, they act as an insect repellent and attract natural predators to the insects. Hotrienol is also found in grapes, honey and Second Flush Darjeeling teas, and is thought to be responsible for the desirable muscatel aroma. To attract the Jassid, the tea plantations must be completely free of pesticides and usually at a lower altitude where the temperature is warmer. Harvesting usually takes place during the hottest midsummer months, which is when these insects begin to reproduce. Unlike most other oolong teas, only the bud and the first two leaves are picked because they are the most tender and specifically targeted by the Jassid.
The tea has a fruity aroma and tastes of stone fruit, raisins and honey and the color in the cup resembles amber.
We suggest brewing this tea at a lower temperature with a longer brewing time, as it helps to clearly highlight the musky, oxidized, sweet-sour muscatel notes. Through the infusions, the flavors will change to a more woody character that is somewhat more typical of a black tea. Also known as Oriental Beauty, a nickname allegedly given by Queen Elizabeth II after she fell in love with this tea.