CHAMPAGNE LONG KOU is our project dongfang meiren—also known (unfortunately) as "Oriental (or Eastern) Beauty". Less commonly, this tea is referred to as Champagne Oolong; a fitting title for a tea regularly sold at over 400USD per kilogram. We refer to it in-house as Mister Lei's Champagne—a nod to this tea's producer and our old friend Mingfu, a wine connoisseur himself with a nose for the subtleties of aroma dongfang meiren production requires. This is also the man behind the most complex jasmine we've cupped.
Mingfu's tea farm is deep in rural north-central Guangxi province, China. Made from qing xin da mao cultivar tea plants transplanted from Taiwan in the late 40's, this lot has the unique advantage of coming from old, semi-wild trees; Long Kou farm is low-intervention, with acres of mostly untended and fully biodynamic grow zones. Typically, dongfeng meiren is produced in northern Taiwan's Hsinchu county. There, careful cultivation and strict fertilization methods are employed to ensure a sufficient population of Taiwanese tea leafhoppers (jacobiasca formosana) bite the tea plants. These bites—visible on the finished tea leaf—are responsible for the signature rose and exotic fruit qualities of champagne oolong. CHAMPAGNE LONG KOU is indeed bug-bitten; we're just not sure by which bugs. Again, this is one of our project teas—an effort to defy tea making norms alongside forward-thinking producers in pursuit of objective excellence and accessible pricing. This tea has all the makings of its namesake without the shocking price tag.
Mingfu's champagne oolong isn't an insider's secret, though—his tea is sought after even in Taiwan, where it sometimes sells to Taiwanese vendors who (we suspect) resell it as the genuine article. They speculate it's entered competitions there—and maybe won a few. Just another glimpse of the rampant misinformation and fakery that pervades the tea industry. For small-midsize operations like Long Kou, refusing sale to these vendors would require also turning away more legitimate sales; they can't know who's who. For our part, we're happy to buy up most of the crop, and see less of it go to dishonest parties.
Dongfang meiren is heavily oxidized, and plucked at a 1:2 (bud:leaf) standard. This tea is richly floral and juicy on the palate, with a bouquet of literal bouquets—think fruit punch sipped in a flower shop.