Dong Ding Oolong Tea
Flavor: Roasted chicory, chestnuts, nutty, smoky, dried fruit.
Garden: This batch of tea comes from Yong Long Village, just above Dong Ding Mountain. Yong Long is known for a rich red soil which differs from other locales in Lu Gu Township. The unique flavor of the Dong Ding Oolong produced here is attributed to this soil quality, along with the fact this region is home to the most concentrated population of the most skilled oolong tea artisans in Taiwan.
Harvest: Hand picked in small batches. Fall 2013.
Traditional Dong Ding Oolong is a medium oxidized, heavily roasted tea with a hearty, complex, and robust character.
The initial steeping brings forth the prominent roasty aroma with notes of chicory and chestnuts. On the palate, the roasted character continues with more complex nutty flavors, hints of dried fruit, and root vegetables.
This rich, dark brew, with balanced bitter and sweet qualities is our prime candidate selection as a coffee alternative, due to its roasted character and bold flavor.
Dong Ding Oolong Tea made in the traditional way is a favorite of ours, and this is a fine example of an extra robust, heavily roasted version of Dong Ding Oolong.
The Story Of This Tea
This batch of tea comes from Yong Long Village, just above Dong Ding Mountain, at 750m elevation in Lu Gu Township, Nantou County. It was cultivated and processed by a senior member of the board of tea judges in the Lu Gu Farmers' Association Tea Competition - the largest and most prestigious oolong tea competition in the world.
This tea was harvested and cured this past fall by the same artisan from the same tea garden as our previous spring selection of Dong Ding Oolong. This fall batch was made in the same fashion as the previous spring, but with the stems remaining on the rolled and dried tea leaves after processing. Typically, the stems are only removed in preparation for competition, as the spring batch was. We are inclined to purchase batches with the stems left in tact, however - as it involves less value added labor which we see as unnecessary.
This ridge above Dong Ding Mountain is home to the neighboring Yong Long and Feng Huang Villages and is known for a rich red soil which differs from other locales in Lu Gu. The unique flavor of Dong Ding Oolong produced here is attributed to this soil quality, along with the fact that these villages are home to the highest population of the most skilled traditional oolong tea artisans in Taiwan.
This farm consists of tea trees planted 11 years ago, after the farm was left fallow for several years followed by turning the earth over a meter deep and mixing it with crushed seashells and natural compost to balance the ph and re-nutrify the soil. It is now a visibly healthy and flourishing grove of tea that is cultivated without the use of chemical weed killers or fertilizers, and only minimal water soluble pesticides that are approved by the Taiwan government subsidized Tea Research Extension Station (TRES). The soil was inspected many years ago and the harvested leaves are tested annually. The proprietor of this farm is committed to keeping his family heritage alive as artisan tea makers by acknowledging the lessons learned by his father and being more responsible in his farming methods. The tea leaves are processed in their own factory at home - a traditional 3-sided farmhouse that is just a few minutes stroll away from their tea garden.
Single Mug Brew:
Put a level tablespoon (4 grams) of tea leaves in a 12 oz. (350ml) mug. Fill with boiling temperature water and let steep for 3-4 minutes before drinking. After about half of the tea is drunk, refill with boiling temperature water and let sit for 2 minutes and continue to enjoy. Refill as desired. Adjust amount of tea leaves to taste.
Heavily roasted teas are not our recommended choice for cold brew tea, although there is certainly nothing wrong with experimenting. The roasted leaves will most likely require a longer brewing interval in a cold brew, and fewer leaves than normal should suffice.
Gong Fu Brew:
Generously cover the bottom of a Gong Fu teapot (6-8 grams or 1-2 level tablespoons) with tea leaves and follow the standard Gong Fu brewing method. Adjust amount of tea leaves to taste.