Lugu Farmers' Association Dong Ding Oolong Spring Tea Competition 2014 - Part One
May 08, 2014
Last Sunday I visited our source of Dong Ding Oolong in Yonglong Village, Nantou County.
He was in the final hour of roasting a batch of his spring tea harvest to be entered in the world's largest Oolong Tea Competition.
Upon arriving, I tasted the tea that he had taken out of his traditional style basket roaster and brewed just minutes before to monitor the progress of the roast. That was the middle cup and bowl on the tray in the above photo. "Almost there", I commented, and my friend agreed.
Less than 20 minutes later, he brewed again. I said something about it being just right. The artisan agreed, and then proceeded to teach me a lesson about roasting.
He told me how it is necessary to go beyond the point of the tea tasting just right in the process of roasting in order to accommodate the changes in the tea leaves after they cool down and are exposed to atmospheric conditions. The level of consideration goes so far as to calculate the number of days before the leaves will be brewed and judged, and forecasting the weather on the day the leaves are repackaged upon entering the competition.
The photos above and below show batches of tea being entered in the competition. Each competitor submits a 22 jin (one jin = 600g) vacuum sealed bag of tea, which is opened upon entry, repackaged and codified for anonymity. A sample of each batch is coded and kept aside for use in the tea judging process. And the competition begins....
This batch of Alishan High Mountain Jin Xuan Oolong summer 2020 harvest has a very pronounced buttery character. Starting with the leaves put into the pre-heated tea judging cup, they exuded a pronounced buttered toast/popcorn aroma. But the flavor profile is replete with an uncanny buttered popcorn note, it's almost unbelievable! How can tea leaves do this?! It's not only buttered popcorn either! There are distinct floral and vegetal notes that balance out the incredulous and delicious buttered popcorn flavor. OK, enough repetitive description! Click hereto get your share.
This is what an award winning Wenshan Baozhong Tea looks like, in its dry leaf state, of course. Notice the uniformity in the size and coloration of the leaves. The yellow hues are only in the spine of the leaves, which would naturally protrude into a stem, but the stems have been removed, along with the larger, lighter colored, over-matured leaf stock. This uniformity of leaf material offers a pure flavor profile. It allows for a complexity of aromatic and flavor notes, but it comes from a uniform stock which is essential in producing a purity of character. This is a fundamental aspect of competition grade tea. It's not muddled. It's refined.
Batch #55 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is an award-winning Wenshan Baozhong Tea that was entered in the recent spring tea competition of the local Farmers' Association. Preparation for competition involves removing the bulkier stems from the leaves, and also sorting the leaves by coloration to achieve the most uniform stock of leaf material possible.