I was downtown one day, it was hot. I was close to one of the local teashops in my city, so I decided to pass by to see if they had any iced offering I could buy. This is how Gui Fei became the first tea that I tasted cold brewed (cold brew is brewing the tea in cold water over a longer period of time, as opposed to iced where you would brew the tea hot in the regular fashion and then pour it into into a container full of ice to cool it down) and it was just delicious and interesting enough that I had to purchase some for myself to try it out hot.
So Gui Fei is a lower elevation Taiwanese Oolong. It is similar to Oriental Beauty (Dongfang Meiren in Chinese; it also sometimes called Bai Hao which means tip in Chinese) as its processing involves being bitten by the same bug (Jacobiasca Formosna). So these teas are completely pesticide free, as they need to be bitten by these crickets/grasshoppers in order to be produced. By biting the leaves, these insects create a chemical reaction in the tea that ends up in creating its unique flavor. This also means these teas can only be harvested in the summer once the leaves have been bitten, which increases their rarity and explains their relatively high price when considering they are lower elevation teas (usually the higher the altitude at which Taiwanese Oolongs are grown, the more tend to be more expensive, mostly because access to the tea farms is more difficult and because as you go higher up the mountain there is less and less land to cultivate the tea.) Gui Fei means concubine in Chinese, so you can see it’s kind of a play of word to show it is a close relative of Oriental Beauty.
As you can see in the picture above, it is much greener looking than Oriental Beauty, which tends to have a dark brown color with some white tips.
Being pesticide free, this tea doesn’t need a rinse. If you just wait a bit longer for the first steep it will still be very flavorful so it’s worth it to drink it. Taste wise, it has the same strong floral notes that Oriental Beauty has, but it is much more toned down. Some people like to brew Oriental Beauty at a bit lower temperature that would normally would for an Oolong, and I think the same could be said about Gui Fei. The liquor is a brownish color and very flavorful. I think I would need to go a comparison brewing test, but I’m pretty sure I prefer Gui Fei to Oriental Beauty. I know preferences are very subjective, but they are also a part of your exploration as you will tend to explore teas in accordance to your personal preference.
Since it’s a rolled Oolong and I used a Gaiwan, I used the rule of thumb of covering the bottom of the Gaiwan with the “tea balls” and once opened the leaves pretty much took up all the space of the vessel. I used water at 93° C, which is pretty typical for Oolongs, and I could see it might perform better with a bit lower temperature, so I will try that next time.
I didn’t find a really detailed brewing guide for this tea, but you can basically brew it the same way as Oriental Beauty:
Recommend Brewing Guide (Oriental Beauty from Teavivre website):
|Western Method||Chinese Gongfu Way|
|Water : 17oz / 500ml 212℉ / 100℃||Water : 3oz / 85ml 185℉ / 85℃|
|Use 3 Tablespoons / 8 Grams Tea||Use 7 Grams Tea|
|3 – 8 mins||7 steeps : rinse,30s,45s,60s,70s,80s,90s,100s|
|Teapot may be your choice||Gaiwan may be your choice
Rinsing time is around 5 seconds
This is just to give you a starting point if you really have no idea how to brew Oolongs. I would say that Oolongs are much more forgiving if you change around the brewing perimeters than some other types of teas. At one point, you learn how to play it by ear, but in the meantime it is a good idea to follow more strict guidelines.
I personally recommend this tea, I think next time I get a craving for a floral tasting tea there’s a good chance I will flirt with the concubine over the beauty 😉 The concubine is more subtle and also lower maintenance than the beauty (about 14$ for 50g as opposed to around 22$ for 50g typically.)
This is an easy drinking tea, and I find it appropriate for the summer. Usually White and Green teas are said to be more appropriate for the summer, and this tea tastes somewhat similar to a White Tea. Of course you can drink whatever you want whenever you want.
But if you are looking for the typical less oxidized Oolong tea flavors, you won’t really find them in this tea.
Tea DB reviewed a Gui Fei in one of their tea reviews, although the one they reviewed also had the characteristic of being a high elevation tea as well.
Here is the link if you want to pick some up: