Original Dongfang Meiren Tea

Ark of taste
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Dongfang meiren (literally “oriental beauty”) is a tea produced in Taiwan’s Hsinchu County. It is cultivated in the hilly areas of Hsinchu, between 300 and 800 meters above sea level, where there is sufficient sunlight and humidity. There are various names for this tea, including white tip oolong, pong fong cha, bai hao, and oriental beauty.

The tea has a characteristic aroma of mature fruits and honey, thanks in part to the effect of the insect Jacobiasca formosana on the young tender leaves of the plant. The leaves turn yellow and are filled with white dots, giving the impression that the plant is sick, rather than healthy. In order to leave the insects undisturbed, no pesticides are used. The farmers wait for the insects to act, and then they harvest the leaves, between July and October. After this a rather long manual process begins: The leaves are left to dry in open air and indoors, and are then they are rolled by hand. Each rolled tea leaf is left to dry a second time, for a longer period of time.

Original dongfang meiren tea is prepared by infusing the leaves in water at a lower temperature (80-85° C) than other teas, and for a longer time. It is usually transferred several times from one teapot to another.

Given the importance and fame that this tea has obtained, many farmers and tea exporters are trying to imitate the original. In the last few years, climate change has begun to put this—which is already highly susceptible to drought—at risk.

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Hsinchu County

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Tea and infusions

Nominated by:May Yu-Hsin Chang