Recently, I finally got the chance to sit down alone at home and brew a pot of the Third Place Category award-winning tea from last spring's Lugu Farmers' Association Dong Ding Oolong Tea Competition. I visually measured the usual amount of tea leaves in my bamboo scoop, and then decided to weigh it for reference. It was 10.5g, which is about the norm for me in a 200-250ml teapot that I brew gongfu style in, i.e. short brews starting at about one minute, with several subsequent brews of incrementally increasing brew times.
Our Dong Ding Oolong artisan, professional tea judge and friend brewing gongfu style after a cupping.
The tea leaves opened evenly on the first brew, offering a clean, fragrant, complex aroma and subtle flavor that left a nice first impression. The second brew brought more substance — a more full-flavored body, with airy yet distinct sun-dried fruity legs in the aftertaste. It brewed a pure, vibrant and fresh cup with a complexity that comes with careful roasting of leaves that are skillfully oxidized and dried. It was balanced and aromatic, with just the right amount of underlying bitter astringency to clean the palate, as a fine tea should. I purposely pushed the length of brewing time starting with the third brew, because that can show a tea's true colors, particularly an Oolong. It held its own and did not over-brew and become too bitter or astringent, it was strong, but still balanced and pleasantly stimulating.
The lasting impression from this brew was a finely balanced, substantial character with a vibrant, heady aftertaste and a subtle warming effect that left me feeling clear and relaxed. I felt like I just had a truly rewarding pot of tea.
Below shows the final few hours of tasting at the end of more than 30 hours of roasting.
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The most commonly referred to trait in Leafhopper Tea is a honey-essence note in the fragrance as well as the flavor profile. This hint of honey varies greatly from batch to batch of "bug bitten tea", as it is also referred to locally. But the most general characteristic of this tea type is its bold complexity of aroma and flavor. It simply has a substance that clearly distinguishes it from a standard High Mountain Tea.
Above we see a local tea picker turning in freshly picked leaves to be weighed and recorded for commission. These new-growth, tender leaves were harvested on a beautiful sunny day at about 1500 meters elevation in the Shan Lin Xi tea growing region in southern Nantou County, central Taiwan.
Our expressed intention in sharing this batch of tea is to offer Eco-Cha Tea Club members a chance to experience the original unroasted flavor profile of a tea type that, in the local Taiwanese dialect, is simply called "Leafhopper Tea".