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The story of Concubine tea really starts with Eastern Beauty. There are many species of leaf-hoppers in Taiwan, but Jacobiasca formosana and Empoasca onukii are the most common. These insects are so small, you cannot see their bites. They do not make holes, but rather little pricks that allow them to suck the juices out of the leaves. There are enzymes in their saliva which cause the leaves to change, along with the bite holes which also cause changes. Their bites affect the leaves in three ways: 1) they begin oxidation; 2) they cause the tea to release defensive chemicals that change the nature of the leaf; and 3) the tree also releases airborne compounds that change the fragrance/flavor of the leaves. Concubine tea is higher-altitude ball-shaped oolong that is also bug-bitten like Eastern Beauty but processed more like the traditional oolongs of central Taiwan. Concubine tea is sometimes also called “Honey Fragrance Oolong” due to the sweet fragrance and flavor that resembles wild honey.
Brilliance is a beautiful concubine tea from old trees in a very biodiverse garden with a rich biodiversity, which you may be able to taste. This is one of the richest and deepest concubine teas we have ever tasted. The ten years of age have deepened and darkened the tea, making it even more patient and with a greater complexity and nuance. We also have a new version of Brilliance from the same farm called Radiance.