It’s time for a blast from the past. I finished a sample of this tea back around the end of January and stalled on posting a review until now. My fetishization of traditional Dong Ding oolongs should be apparent to all by this point in time, but I am willing to bet that the following statement will surprise at least a few of you: this may have been one of the best oolongs I have ever tried. I am making that statement in all seriousness. I found this tea to be that good. Just check out my numerical score. I may be rather liberal in my ratings at times, but you do not exactly see me handing out scores of 94 or higher all that frequently, now do you?
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 7 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, I noted aromas of baked bread, toasted grain, praline, and vanilla coming from the dry tea leaves. After the rinse, I found emerging scents of roasted peanut, brown sugar, coffee, and sugarcane. The first proper infusion brought out touches of cinnamon, honey, and something rather floral on the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented gentle notes of cinnamon, vanilla, sugarcane, coffee, toasted grain, praline, and roasted peanut underscored by hints of orchid, grass, orchard fruits, banana leaf, and graham cracker. Subsequent infusions brought out the orchid on the nose and the honey, brown sugar, and baked bread in the mouth. Distinct notes of apple and pear appeared alongside stronger impressions of grass, banana leaf, and graham cracker. New notes of cream, malt, orange zest, butter, roasted almond, cooked spinach, steamed milk, cantaloupe, seaweed, minerals, wood, cocoa, and caramelized banana emerged. By the time I reached the end of the session, I was mostly finding lingering notes of minerals, cream, cinnamon, apple, pear, toasted grain, malt, and vanilla infrequently backed by fleeting roasted almond, roasted peanut, grass, banana leaf, cooked spinach, wood, sugarcane, and seaweed impressions.
Holy Hell! This was a mammoth of a tea! Every time I dug in, I found something new and interesting. Not only that, but I am willing to bet that I could have kept going with this had I not been utterly exhausted both mentally and physically by the seven minute mark. What would this have had left at ten minutes and beyond? I still wish I could have pressed forward and found out. If you cannot try this, at least consider picking up Taiwan Tea Crafts’ newest iteration of it. I will very likely be doing the same. Their Dong Dings have now officially made my yearly purchase list.
Flavors: Almond, Apple, Baked Bread, banana, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cantaloupe, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Coffee, Cream, Graham Cracker, Grain, Grass, Honey, Malt, Milk, Mineral, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peanut, Pear, Seaweed, Spinach, Sugarcane, Sweet, Toasted, Vanilla, Vegetal, Wood