FREE GLOBAL SHIPPING ON ORDERS OVER $75

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

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

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Dong Ding Tie Guan Yin Oolong
Eco-Cha Tea Club: Dong Ding Tie Guan Yin Oolong

January 08, 2018

Our monthly missions to find exceptional singular batches of tea to share with the Eco-Cha Tea Club have led us full circle back to where we were exactly 2 years ago — in the workshop of our favorite elder artisan Mr. Su. On the day we stopped by and snapped the photo above, we found him tasting his batches of tea one last time before entering them into the world's largest Oolong Tea competition, where he has won Champion Prize. But we were visiting him with another type of tea in mind — the tea we sourced from him and shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club in January 2016, which we named Dong Ding Tie Guan Yin Oolong.

View full article →

Eco-Cha Behind The Scenes Of The World's Largest Oolong Tea Competition
Eco-Cha Behind The Scenes Of The World's Largest Oolong Tea Competition

December 13, 2017

Shown above are bamboo basket roasters in full effect, emitting exquisite aromas of tea leaves in their last hours of roasting in preparation for the Lugu Farmers' Association's Dong Ding Oolong Tea Competition — winter 2017. These traditional style roasters are often used for the final roasting, following repeated roastings in larger convection ovens.

View full article →

Eco-Cha Tea Club: High Mountain Hong Shui Oolong Tea Tasting Notes
Eco-Cha Tea Club: High Mountain Hong Shui Oolong Tea Tasting Notes

December 08, 2017

This month's batch of tea being shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a heavily oxidized, unroasted Oolong Tea harvested from the lower lying slopes of the Shanlinxi region. The character of this tea is an intriguing combination of Oolong and Black Tea. The aromatic qualities offer a rich sweet profile like fruit compote. On the palate, it has a broad range of flavor, with a base of deep musky notes into a complex fruity body with subtle hints of citrus in the finish. The aftertaste lingers with a dry headiness comprised of interesting sweet/tart and astringent tones.

View full article →