Dong Ding Tieguanyin Oolong — Never Heard Of It? Neither have we. That's why it's the first choice of the recent winter's harvest for January's Eco-Cha Tea Club. We've given it the name Dong Ding Tieguanyin Oolong simply because it is the first crop of Tieguanyin tea trees being cultivated and crafted in the heart of Dong Ding Oolong Country. Planted less than five years ago, and harvested in the last two, this is a batch of tea that we are genuinely thrilled about. Not only because of its uniqueness, but primarily because of how it tastes.
This tea strain offers a fragrant, fruity, subtly fermented character that puts it in a category of its own. Particularly since it has been cultivated and cured by a pioneering 77 year-old Dong Ding Oolong artisan. Mr. Su has shared his fine tea, stories, and deep knowledge of traditional tea making with us for many years, and is our favorite "tea elder" to visit in his home factory while he works his magic in roasting tea.
The reason this batch of tea is unique is that it's a merging of regional traditional tea making styles in Taiwan. It is a novel incarnation of a traditional Oolong Tea that combines tradtional Tieguanyin tea making techniques from northern Taiwan with Dong Ding Oolong methods in central Taiwan. Tieguanyin was brought over from China and has been cultivated and made in the traditional fashion in northern Taiwan for many decades. This traditional form of tea making has since been mostly phased out in mainland China and replaced with a version of "Luguanyin" or "Green Tieguanyin". Basically, this is a minimally oxidized, unroasted Oolong that replicates Taiwan's style of "High Mountain Tea". It's the modern, high-volume, minimally processed style of Oolong tea production.
Traditional Tieguanyin has virtually become an "endangered species" of tea in that so little is still being produced. This new version of tea that combines two distinctly different traditional tea making styles that have evolved in specific regions of Taiwan is an anomaly that we find very significant. We also happen to like this new traditional hybrid even more than its heavier oxidized, heavier roasted predecessor of Tieguanyin. This elder craftsman is using his decades of tea making experience and integrating two different tea making styles to create a new phenomenon of traditional Oolong tea. How exciting is that?!
We have more windows of images and information to open for you very soon — into the source of this new incarnation of traditional Taiwanese Oolong Tea.
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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".