May 17, 2016

Tea Cupping - Tasting Two Oriental Beauty Oolongs

One of my early teaware purchases was a 6 oz cupping set. I was inspired to do so after attending a Harney & Sons tea tasting* where professional cupping sets were used. When I prepared by teas in the cupping set, I did not do so with an eye to formally evaluation the smell, taste, and aromatic features of the tea. I liked the ease  the cupping set afforded me in steeping and pouring my. This has changed with my enrollment in a tea education course. I am learning how to use the cupping set like a professional. I literally have a better handle on pouring from the set. Also, I received a 4 oz cupping set as part of my course materials and now I am able to evaluate two types of tea in the same family, for example, two Oriental Beauty oolongs, which are the subject of this post.

Oriental Beauty is a Taiwanese oolong. The oolong is also known as Bai Hao which translates to "white tip" or "white down" and refers to the white bud that is picked alongside the first two leaves in the fine plucking style. The cultivar used to make this oolong is Qing Xin Dapan. (Learn more about tea cultivars here.) One of the Oriental Beauty I tasted is a Reserve style from Te Company and the other is "Formosa Bai Hao" from Adagio Teas. (Formosa is the Portuguese word for beautiful. Although the island was never colonized by Portugal, Portuguese sailors who were stranded on the island in 1544 referred to it as Ilha Formosa and Formosa was used until the end of World War Two.)

Image: Te Company Oriental Beauty Reserve (1st infusion)

I used 4 oz of 195F water in both the 6 oz and 4 oz cups. The Te Company Oriental Beauty Reserve was prepared in the 4 oz cup while the Adagio oolong was infused in the 6 oz cup. The Reserve is always pictured on the left when both oolongs are shown in the same photograph. I infused 2 teaspoons of leaf (recommended amount by both companies) for 3 minutes three times though this review focuses on the first infusion. Below I present my tasting notes of both oolongs using a modified tea assessment and sensory evaluation form.

Te Company - Oriental Beauty ReserveAdagio - Formosa Bai Hao
Dry leaf smell sweet, malted cream sweet, woody
Dry leaf color, shape mix of reddish and dark brown leaves with white/silver grey buds; twisted leaf mix of reddish and dark brown leaves with white/silver grey buds; twisted leaf
First infusion color light amber; clear copper; clear 
First infusion smell floral sweet, woody
First infusion taste sweet, woody, floral, herbal (lavender mint); lingering; smooth; round mouthfeel chocolate, floral, spicy (nutmeg); dry; thick, slightly chewy texture
Infused leaf smell floral, fruity chocolate, dried fruit
Infused leaf color mostly reddish; narrow leaves mostly dark; broad leaves

Image: Adagio Teas Formosa Bai Hao (1st infusion)

The second and third infusions all exhibited the smells, tastes, and aromas listed above. I like both of these oolongs. If you prefer a heavier, woody Oriental Beauty then the Adagio offering is for you. If you like a lighter, floral forward Oriental Beauty then try Te Company's Reserve. I would love to hear your experiences with Oriental Beauty oolongs.

The Formosa Bai Hao was provided for review by Adagio Teas. I won the Te Company Oriental Beatuy Reserve in a Riverbed Books raffle.

* You can read my tasting notes on Harney & Sons white teasChinese and Japanese green teasTaiwanese and Chinese oolongs, and Chinese black and puerh teas.


  1. Great tasting notes and great pictures! I can't wait for you to come back to NY and we can try oolongs at Te in person :)

    1. Georgia | Notes on Tea5/17/16, 8:26 PM

      Thanks, Sara!
      I am definitely looking forward to drinking lots of tea with you and at Te.


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