Tea From Taiwan is right to call Dong Ding Ming Xiang (loosely translated as “fragrant tea from the frozen peak”) a dark-colored oolong. I immediately notice the difference with the dry leaves. These tightly curled pellets aren’t various shades of green, but a blackish brown with streaks of green. And while most oolongs produce a golden liquor, Dong Ding Ming Xiang results in an alluring dark amber that grows more lustrous with the longer brew times.
Aroma is another area where Dong Ding Ming Xiang deviates from its fellow oolongs. The dry leaves give off a slight forest scent that strengthens with the first steep. Instead of the usual orchid base, moist earth, wood, and hints of coffee lilt from the liquid and wet leaves. It’s not an unwelcome change. In fact, the mix of smells reminds me of early fall in New England. I wonder if the tea will taste like autumn, too.
And it does! With my first steep of 45 seconds using the instructions above, Dong Ding Ming Xiang offers an autumnal flavor foliage. Earthy and faintly tannic, it carries accents of coffee, caramel, and – as Tea From Taiwan described – honey. Not a dominant honey, but it’s there in the aftertaste. The second steep (about 90 seconds) highlights the honey without becoming overly sweet and introduces wood and roasted tones. This is when Dong Ding Ming Xiang reminds me of the current season. If I sit back and sip this tea, I can picture myself strolling along a tree-lined road, surveying the red and orange leaves, and savoring the crisp, bonfire-tinged air.
Longer brew times for Dong Ding Ming Xiang lead to a more outdoorsy infusion. My fourth and fifth steeps (about 3 and 4 minutes, respectively) bring out more of the earth and wood flavors. The honey and caramel notes have also disappeared. These later brews are more like a soft black tea than a typical oolong. They also lack the clean or creamy finish and orchid currents that most oolongs have. (So did the earlier steeps.) While I miss those familiar qualities, I can’t complain about Dong Ding Ming Xiang’s departure from the norm because I enjoyed every drop of it.
Read my full review here: http://bibliophilesreverie.com/2014/10/23/tea-from-taiwan-dong-ding-ming-xiang-oolong/
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Caramel, Coffee, Earth, Forest Floor, Honey, Wet Earth, Wood