The Ancient Beauty Club

August 28, 2020

The Ancient Beauty Club

With the uncertainty this year has brought still casting a hazy veil over the city, it was a little bit of a shock to realize that the season of heat, sunshine, and iced coffee is already in its last stages. In short time, we’ll be breaking out our puffy coats and shivering our way to the nearest café for whatever drink will warm us up the fastest. The season of cold weather is swiftly approaching which means so is the season of hot tea.  

To commemorate the changing of the seasons and the reopening of our shop, I decided to formulate a new blog mini-series dedicated to the finest teas we carry and the ceremonies associated with them; a club if you will. I call it “The Ancient Beauty Club.” And what better way to kick things off then by talking about the very tea the club is named after? 

Ancient Beauty Oolong is one of the more exotic and interesting teas we carry at Sullivan Street Tea and Spice Company. This particular tea goes by many names around the world with its most common one being Oriental Beauty, named by Queen Elizabeth II in the 20th century. What makes this Taiwanese tea stand out so much is the sweet, honey-like aroma and taste that actually is a result of a plant enzyme released by the tea leaves before they are harvested. Jacobiasca formosona, more commonly known as Leafhoppers, eat away at the leaves causing them to oxidize slowly while releasing that enzyme. 

Its not typical to want insects to eat at the crop, but Ancient Beauty would not be Ancient Beauty without the help of the little green bugs.  

Understandably, since some leaves are eaten away at more than others resulting in them oxidizing too much, only a small amount of the crop is actually harvested which also contributes to the high market value of Ancient Beauty Oolong. 

But I’m here to tell you that it is most definitely worth it.

Organic Ancient Beauty Oolong

If you’re someone who is big on tea ceremony, the traditional way of steeping Ancient Beauty is for one minute using a lower temperature water (180 degrees). You can steep the leaves up to three times, leaving them in a bit longer with every steep. 

I have not yet come across one person who has tried Ancient Beauty Oolong and has not liked it. The unique way in which the leaves are grown and harvested certainly adds to the appeal, but nothing beats the beautiful complexity of a warm cup of this tea. No bitterness, just honey, fruit, and the most subtle hint of something dark and woodsy.  

No matter what, it’s important that we remember to still embrace the simple things, like hot tea on a chilly fall day. If there is one thing I’ve come to understand during the last several months, it’s that it is important to remember to slow down and open myself up to the things I thought I never had time for, like educating myself on one of my favorite beverages. So, to all the fans of Ancient Beauty (or any tea for that matter), whether you are new or old, join the club and set aside a few moments to learn about the fascinating history and production of one of the most popular drinks throughout the globe. Preferably with a cup of one of our delicious teas! 

Written By:
Bridie Wilton