Next on the agenda was to taste Oriental Beauty Tea and visit Beipu. Beipu is northwest of Taipei and takes about an hour and half on the train and then forty minutes by bus. Luckily Scott was with me and even if I wanted to get lost there was no chance of it 🙂
Scott stayed in Beipu for a while so he was very familiar with it and knew many of the locals. We visited the tea shop first and was greeted by the future of oriental Beauty, the owner’s son!
I was shown the actual tea Scott helped to make in 2011. It stands proudly on the shelf and I am not certain money could even buy the tea or the memories.
The land on which the tea shop and restaurant sits, takes up one small quarter of the largest residence in Beipu. I am not certain, so correct me if I am wrong, but as far as I know the landowners who now reside elsewhere lent this land to the shop owner on the terms that he would refurbish and take care of it.
In fact the shop owner did more than that. With some backing from the town council he has made Beipu into a popular tourist destination bringing in a lot of commerce and has elevated Beipu as a centre of Oriental Beauty production. In my eyes he is a hero of the region, but modestly he tells us it is what any one born in Beipu would have done.
The shop owner has also renovated a guest house in which he let us stay at. Scott says he doesn’t let anybody stay there. So I was honoured to be giving the opportunity, otherwise I would have been stumped as there were no other obvious places to stay. People usually visit Beipu just for the day and leave after dinner.
At night I made my first acquaintance with this prestigious Oriental Beauty. Wow! In my eyes Mrs. Man is my only “Oriental Beauty,” but I now understand why other people have named this tea Oriental Beauty.
It smelt flowery with the depth of black tea. The leaves were brittle and long unlike the rolled dong dings and Wulongs we had been drinking. The taste was sweet, honey like and had layers of depth. My vocabulary for tea tastes needs to improve but my words cannot justify the impression it made.
The production of this tea is very special too. It gets it honey taste from the Jaccids biting the tea leaf. The plant defends itself by secreting a specific hormone. The sweet hormone is then released by the oxidation during production. Generally Jaccids come during summer and only the bitten leaves are picked, so harvest is limited. The tea is totally free of pesticides otherwise the insects would not bite the leaves.
To end, another Oriental Beauty has further enriched my passion for tea.
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