Saturday, August 23, 2014

Pretending with a Beeng

This here furry sliver tipped mini-beeng could almost pass.

But wait there is something different. It's like walking past a really well-done up trans lady on the San Francisco streets.  Yup. This is no shengpu. It's actually an oolong in beeng form- an Oriental Beauty no less. Why? What form of abomination is this?  Maybe it's for tea drinker's like me that can't drink sheng anymore but still like to pretend...  It tastes nothing- nothing like sheng.  Let us not press this tranny metaphor further.

Oriental Beauty can definitely be aged and this is the main reason I got this pressed beeng. But perhaps the tea makers also needed to do something creative with those broken up leaves that can't be sold at top dollar.  Inspecting the brewed leaves confirms my suspicions.  Also it's not entirely clear the green leafhoppers have done their magic on these leaves as most of them look quite unbitten.  For those unaware- yes it is insect damage which forces oolong plants to produce antibodies that lead to that fruity taste. I've had leaf hopppers going rogue in my organic garden but they don't seem to work their magic on all edible plants.  

Is the vendor's price reduction from $27 to $22 an indication that this novelty pressing might be just a passing experiment?  The tea as it is now is good but nothing amazing.  Actually I think Scott's purple Dehong varietals have more sparkly fruity juicy mouth satisfaction than this.   I'll age this little OB for another few years. I've been slowly drinking through my oolong order.  The teas from this vendor are pretty reliable- their dong ding is good.  I'll most likely order more tea from them when I am forced to drink oolong which is my current sad state.

I sniffed through my sheng collection this afternoon and found half of the pre 2006 cakes have taken on a distinctly less sweet smell- a tad more closer to dry compost.   The colors are darkening considerably, some cakes more than others.  The 2006 Douji Big Leaf is the darkest of them all with serious staining on the wrapper. I need to give them a brew but I've somehow lost my masochistic inclinations. I'm hoping just a few more years and the sheng would have mellowed out enough for me to start up again. 


  1. Hi Hster!

    Properly aged Oriental Beauty is a very hard thing to find. There's one supposedly from 1994 floating around, but I don't think that it's truly that aged, and the price is outrageous for a tea of that age/quality (about $17/oz). J-Tea sells an aged Oriental Beauty, but I haven't tried it. If you want I can give you some pointers on where to buy aged oolong, I've been researching and writing about them a lot recently. I hope that you're able to return to sheng soon, but for now I think that proper aged oolongs can be a very good alternative.

    Best wishes

  2. Dear Jake,

    Congratulations on starting a new blog. Is $17 an ounce really so outrageous? I hope the pursuit of aged oolongs don't empty your funds too much. I'm keeping away from chasing aged oolongs on the internet.


    1. Thanks. For a tea of that age and quality, yes $17/oz is pretty expensive. It doesn't have much aged taste and is generally pretty flat. Two of my friends have tried it and both thought it was flat, boring, and one remarked that it didn't taste like it was 20 years old. I wouldn't be surprised if it was younger myself, other teas at that age have much more smooth, aged flavor, while the 1994 OB had a winey fruity flavor which tasted pretty artificial. Nice aged oolongs from the 80s can be had for around $10-15/oz, so a subpar 1994 oolong is out of the price range totally.

      Finding aged oolongs doesn't put too much of a dent into my wallet, between sample swaps, having other tea drinking friends in Taiwan, and taking advantage of deals it's not too bad. I understand why you don't want to search for them though.

      Best wishes

    2. I just checked J-Tea's website. Their Aged Oriental Beauty is $15/oz and is from 1979. The guys over at TeaDB reviewed it on their show here: I know that James has tried the 1994 one as well and he liked the 1979 way better. I have some 1994 sitting in my cabinet, perhaps I'll go back to it for my blog in the future.