Batch 78 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a Traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea harvested in April 2022. What makes this tea type different from our standard offering of Ding Ding Oolong is that the traditional version is significantly more oxidized and left unroasted. This is how it was made by the local artisans prior to its commercial promotion that began some 40 years ago. The tea makers sold their produce as "mao cha" or "ungroomed tea" — meaning that there was no post production processing (destemming and roasting).
The distinctive quality of this tea is in the skillful oxidation of the relatively mature leaf material. Harvesting the leaves when they are still tender, but have grown to almost full size provides a constitution in the leaves that allows them to be extensively wilted, shuffled and tumbled without losing their composition —both structurally and chemically. If the leaves are too young, they don't endure the extensive oxidation as well, offering less than optimal results. Mature leaves processed with a skill that comes from generations of experience is what properly earns this tea the title of being "traditional".
So what does this come down to in the character and flavor profile of the tea? Well, first of all, the more we brew this batch, the more we are convinced that it's the best quality Traditional Dong Ding we've procured to date. It just continues to satisfy and impress us. It is truly well balanced, full flavored, aromatic — yet modest in its character.
At different moments of brewing and drinking it, we've experienced floral, pastry, fruity and herbal qualities — but nothing too pronounced or "loud" in its character. It's very substantial and complex, but at the same time subtle and, well — "humble" is the term that has occurred to us repeatedly in our experience of Traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea.
The appearance of the dried leaves, brewed tea in a cup, and the brewed tea leaves all indicate the substantial leaf material that has been processed with finesse to achieve significant oxidation without losing the fresh complex composition. This is the crux of traditional Oolong Tea making — particularly from this local artisan culture.
Our friend from whom we procured this tea will be producing the local tea competition in his community this year. He has decided that he will use this batch of tea to represent the quality standard that he believes the competition should be based upon. We truly feel privileged to connected to this living culture in this way. It has taken 30 years of pursuing our interest and admiration for this world of tea that has brought us to this. We are proud and grateful to share it with our tea club members.
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