Dong Pian 2012 was a very good year and made my top 3. Sweet full bodied mouth feel, never bitter and brewed at 195F 45-90 seconds decanted from gaiwan imparts a golden cloudy liquor so damn intoxicating you can “smell” sweet candy cane 2 seats away. Really no marketing hyperbole from the company’s description. One of their truly great offerings worth every cent. I do short multiple steeps so as to extract every drop of goodness until the tasteless dregs. The only unfortunate thing is they have gone through 2 shipments and once the tin goes powder that’s all folks. Srsly, if you’re visiting them, just smell the lid and you’ll know what I mean.
Dong Pian (Winter Sprout), 2012
Called “Dong Pian” in Chinese, Winter Sprout is by far our most unusual tea acquisition from Taiwan. Formosa winter teas are typically picked from mid-to-late November. If the winter is mild enough, the tea plant will sometimes grow a new sprout before slipping into cold weather dormancy.
Our Winter Sprout comes from this secondary growth, picked in mid-January 2012, 45 days after the main winter harvest. It comes from a 1500 meter tea garden on San Lin Xi in Nantou, Taiwan. Because the tea was picked during the plant’s dormant period, the leaves lack the vegetal compounds characteristic of Formosa oolongs, but they possess much higher sugar content.
As sugar maple sap is tapped in the winter months then boiled down for maple syrup, the craftsmanship of this tea accentuates the leaves’ innate sweetness. Once picked, the leaves undergo thirty hours of oxidation before they are slowly baked at 85 degrees centigrade for eight hours a day over the course of two days. From harvest to completion, this tea took nearly six days to craft. The end result is a Formosa oolong that is sublimely sweet and creamy, reminiscent of golden sugar cane, caramel, and cotton candy – yes, that pink fluffy stuff you used to like as a kid.