Dong Ding Tie Guan Yin Tasting Notes | Eco-Cha Tea Club

January 12, 2018

Dong Ding Tie Guan Yin brewed tea in a cup

This month's batch of tea being shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club was made by Mr. Su — an 80 year-old artisan of traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea. He planted a plot of the Tie Guan Yin strain in his backyard several years ago, and this is the second time we've sourced this tea type from him. Mr. Su is our favorite representative of traditionally made tea in Taiwan, and it brings us a special kind of joy to be able to share his tea with our tea club members.

This batch has a particularly sweet character, with slightly tangy, fruity notes and a pleasantly clean lingering aftertaste. It has just enough of that cured, almost fermented character that makes it reminiscent of a traditionally made Tie Guan Yin Oolong. But given that it was only roasted once, it maintains a mild flavor profile similar to a Hong Shui Oolong.

Dong Ding Tie Guan Yin dried tea leaves

The first batch of this tea type that we shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club two years ago was very similar to Dong Ding Oolong Tea made in the contemporary fashion. The oxidation, rolling and roasting methods were about the same as a quality Dong Ding Oolong we find being made by local artisans today. This month's batch is distinctly more representative of a traditional Oolong in that the leaves are more oxidized, loosely rolled, and only mildly roasted.

Dong Ding Tie Guan Yin brewed leaves in a Gongfu tea pot

In this sense, it is similar to the locally made tea before Dong Ding Oolong tea was standardized and promoted commercially some 30 years ago. This type of tea made by pre-modern methods is now referred to as Hong Shui Oolong. The differences between Dong Ding and Hong Shui are in the degree of oxidation and roasting. Hong Shui tea leaves are oxidized about twice as much as Dong Ding, and are typically not roasted, or only very slightly.

closeup shot of brewed Dong Ding Tie Guan Yin tea leaves

Modern tea making methods have developed a standard of rolling the leaves very tightly for the purposes of preventing crumbling, efficient packaging, and preserving freshness. Before the invention of machines to do this work, it was done by hand (and foot!). The pre-modern rolling method also had an asset that complemented the traditional way of making tea. Loosely rolled leaves are more conducive to post-production oxidation and aging. The traditional recipe of extensive oxidation and sufficient drying/light roasting of the leaves provided proper curing of the tea to stabilize the character and preserve freshness. By storing the leaves in a cool, dry place, out of direct light, they only get better with age. This is the inherent wisdom in traditionally made tea.

Brewing Dong Ding Tie Guan Yin Gong Fu Style

We look forward to hearing about your experience of this month's batch of tea being shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club. Please post your comments, photos, and tasting videos here for all of us to see and learn from! See you next month, when we will be getting ready to Chinese New Year — the Year of the Earth Dog! 





Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in News

Early Spring Bi Luo Chun Green Tea Tasting Notes | Eco-Cha Tea Club
Early Spring Bi Luo Chun Green Tea Tasting Notes | Eco-Cha Tea Club

April 06, 2020

We can see in the photo of the dried leaves above that they were hand-plucked while still very young and tender. This is evident not only by the size of the leaves, but also in the protective fur that is still on the whitish colored leaf buds. It is this stage of leaf growth, along with the heirloom cultivar of tea tree that give Bi Luo Chun its distinctive character among Green Teas — especially when it is from the first flush of spring tea buds!

View full article →

Early Spring Bi Luo Chun Green Tea | Eco-Cha Tea Club
Early Spring Bi Luo Chun Green Tea | Eco-Cha Tea Club

April 03, 2020

The earliest days of spring harvest are known to produce the most complex and delicately flavored Bi Luo Chun Green Tea. The leaves have more substance as a result of growing more slowly, combined with a fresh spring floral quality that comes from the plants entering their heightened phase of spring vegetation.

View full article →

Bi Luo Chun Tea early spring harvest
Bi Luo Chun Tea Early Spring Harvest | Eco-Cha Teas

March 14, 2020

Freshly picked early spring Bi Luo Chun Tea is here! We added Bi Luo Chun Green Tea to our menu just last September and it has gotten a great response. So we planned ahead this year, and took a trip up northern Taiwan to visit the farms and factory as soon as the spring harvest season began to get more.

View full article →