Charcoal Roast Dong Ding - Taiwan Oolong Tea - Winter 2011
Harvest: Winter, 2011
Growing Area: Jenai Township, Nantou County, Taiwan
Elevation: +/-3,300 ft (1,000 M)
Varietal: Qing Xin
Vacuum Sealed in 50 Gram Portions
This Dong Ding (Tung Ting) oolong tea is from Nantou County, Taiwan’s largest county and most productive tea growing region. It is one of Taiwan’s most famous teas, named after Dong Ding mountain in central Nantou. According to the story, a student who had gone to study in Fujian in the late 1800’s brought some tea plants back to his home on Dong Ding mountain, where he planted them and began producing oolong teas from these plants. The environment on Dong Ding mountain proved to be ideal for oolong cultivation, so the tea produced in this region of Nantou county became one of Taiwan’s most famous and highly sought after.
This tea was hand picked and processed during the Winter harvest season of 2011 using the traditional Dong Ding processing method. The leaves are hand picked and then withered either in the sun or indoors (depending on the weather) for a short period of time to reduce some of the moisture content in the leaves. After the leaves’ moisture content has reduced enough to make them soft & pliable, the tea is spread on large bamboo trays and shaken periodically over a period of a few hours to bruise the edges and begin the oxidation process. Once the leaves have oxidized to about 30-35%, they are heated in tumbling dryers/ovens to stop the oxidation process. After the oxidation process is halted, the tea leaves are rolled in mechanical rollers, which causes them to compress into their tightly compressed ball shape. The leaves are then dried and ready for roasting.
The roasting of this tea was done in the traditional manner using glowing (not flaming) charcoal which has been covered with ash (usually from burned rice hulls) to prevent flare ups and smokey tastes from penetrating & overpowering the tea flavor. The roast is what I would call “medium,” and the producer refers to this tea as 40% roasted.
The toasty & fruity flavors of this tea are a good balance of the distinctly charcoal roasted taste with other distinctive notes of roasted nuts & dried stone fruit (peaches?). What gets me about this tea is the mouthfeel, which is big, thick and spreads slowly across my palate, where it lingers. The steeped tea is smooth and thick without being soupy, and the Hui Gan (bittersweet aftertaste) is long-lasting, nutty, and sweet.
We recommend Gong Fu preparation and keeping the steeping times short at first.