Flavor: Toasted grains, woodsy aroma. Stone fruit, fresh scone/nutty character. Bold, refreshing finish.
Garden: This batch of Concubine Oolong Tea was sourced by our mentor, Lisa Lin, in Lugu Township. It's from a plot of tea in the Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Tea growing region. The farmer allowed his first flush to mature without administering pesticides, offering us a fine bug bitten tea!
Harvest: Hand picked in small batches. Spring 2022. Shanlinxi, Taiwan.
The most commonly noted flavor of Concubine Oolong is a honey-like quality. However, the bug effect that is integral to Concubine tea can be more varied than just honey notes. This batch is more fruity and pastry, with a pine aroma. This is balanced by substantial astringency to give it a clean, bright finish. This batch is a relatively light roast, undergoing two roasting with a few months between the two roasting to allow the tea to "settle" into its composition. Concubine is a fitting name in that the tea has a fickle, unpredictable character when it comes to roasting.
This type of tea is also known for its brewing power. Less leaves can be used than the standard amount to brew a high mountain tea. It will brew a strong cup that should be monitored to not over brew, and it also will yield considerably more brews than a normal oolong.
An elusive type of tea that varies with each batch made, from season to season – depending on the presence of a small insect. Concubine Oolong is the result of the leaves being bitten by a tiny green fly, called a leaf hopper, during growing season. This instigates an immune system response in the plant, resulting in a unique flavor. Normally, this bug is deterred by the regulated use of a water soluble pesticide sprayed on the plants early in the growing season. More and more, farmers are allowing their plants to go unsprayed at least one season in the year. Typically this is done after spring harvest.
In Northern Taiwan, a more common name for "bug bitten" tea is Oriental Beauty (Dong Fang Mei Ren). Oriental Beauty is made from a different Oolong varietal than the Green Heart Oolong that is cultivated for high mountain tea in Central Taiwan. Concubine also differs from Oriental Beauty in that the Concubine leaves are tightly rolled in the manner of a Taiwan Oolong, rather than the traditional mainland China method of curled, open leaves. Tight rolling is a Taiwanese innovation that protects and preserves the tea.