Oriental Beauty is also known as Bai Hao (white tips) Oolong, or Champagne Oolong. The beautiful name, many people believe, is from Queen Victoria. When brewed, the leaves generally spread in water, like a graceful lady dancing with gorgeous finery.
Samples provided by Sanne Tea
What we have here is a side by side comparison of Sanne Tea's Oriental Beauty from 2014 and 2015. It should prove interesting to see if I can detect subtle differences from one harvest to another from the same farm.
Unfortunately, as it turned out, this will not be the comparison I wanted to present. Why? I was not paying attention. Simple as that. My intention was to follow the directions on the sample label - they are identical for both samples. The entire 6g sample of each was used in water heated to 180F. The first steep time was to be 60s. What I failed to check was the kettle was not empty when I added my 6oz of water (200ml). So, when I poured, before I realized, I had filled my 12oz mug. Since both teas need to be brewed with the same parameters to keep it fair, I now have to use more water in the second mug. I also lengthened the first steep to 2 minutes to compensate.
One subtle detail that always impresses me about Sanne Tea is the handwriting on the back label. The tea name including the oriental characters, and steeping parameters are all filled in by hand for each package. Lulu is an artist with a heart for detail.
Looking at the leaf, (2014 on the left) both show all the correct colors of brown, red, green, white, and yellow. I think the yellow is the most difficult to catch in all the leaf of this type I have reviewed. Even though it appears just the opposite in my pictures, the 2015 version seems overall darker. It also seems fluffier but that may be simply a settling thing, still this is what I noticed.
Both samples have a light roasty, lightly malt, and fresh scent.
Until disaster struck, my intention was to brew these in identical mugs then pour the brew into smaller cups. This would allow me to literally compare them side by side. Now I find myself in need of both mugs for the one cup. After the panic, I realized I had other options. Since I used the entire sample all I could think of was how do I save this mug.
I really think it is too close to call which is better - especially given my faulty comparison. It is likely that I steeped the first mug longer than I thought. This would easily explain the differences.
What I learned is both teas are very good and both will take panic and bad technique in stride. Tune in next time for another exciting episode of tea brewing disasters! Even those of us who brew a lot of tea, have those days, more often than I care to admit.
You can find Sanne Tea 2014 Oriental Beauty here
You can find Sanne Tea 2015 Oriental Beauty here