We are very excited to announce that we have a very small amount of top award-winning competition tea to share, and it happens to be our personal favorite tea type and locale: Dong Ding Oolong from Yonglong/Fenghuang Community in Lugu. This recent winter batch of tea was entered into the locals-only competition in the historical tea producing villages on and around Dong Ding Mountain.
This father and son team who manage their farm and process their harvests together have both won first prize in their local tea competition within the last ten years. This is an exclusive competition that only residents of the historical Dong Ding Oolong tea producing villages of Fenghuang, Yonglong, and Zhangya on Dong Ding Mountain are eligible to enter. This is home to the most concentrated population of traditional tea artisans in Taiwan, and very likely in the world. Here is the packaging of the same award that the father won seven years ago and pulled out of storage to show us. Award-winning competition tea increases in value with age, and prize-winners and tea merchants alike collect them.
This is the first season that we've sourced from this heritage farm in the heart of Dong Ding Oolong Country. We first met this farmer years ago, and got to know his son more recently since we met him in the factory of our organic source of tea that he was hired to process a few years ago. The son is now taking on more and more responsibilities in managing the family farm, processing the seasonal harvests, and becoming active in the community. The first photo above is the son's Champion Prize award he received in this competition six years ago. Below is the award that this very batch of tea received in the most recent winter 2015 competition.
This heritage tea producing area established this competition with the goal of preserving the traditional style of cultivating and processing this tea type. Hence, the name on the packaging above and the canister below that the tea comes in: Traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea.
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The appearance of the brewed tea has gained substance, and become a deeper yellowish gold in comparison to the thinner, lighter unroasted brew. This coincides with the flavor profile in that the roasted version is heartier, with a more balanced character. The aroma coming off the leaves from the initial rinse is reminiscent of buttered carrots or yams. After the first brew, the aroma is more like grilled corn, cooling off into freshly baked scones. The second pour brought on stronger roasted vegetable notes, but again cooling off into a pastry aroma.
Red Oolong offers a smooth, balanced, mildly sweet, rich but not quite bold flavor profile, with elements of fruit compote, pumpkin pie, and a hint of dried flowers. This ultra-friendly character, combined with the fact that almost all Red Oolong is cultivated naturally on the southeast coast of Taiwan, facing the wide open Pacific, where the sky reminds a North American of the northern west coast, is no wonder why it is rapidly gaining popularity on the international market. Once again, Taiwan leads the way in Oolong Tea innovation!