Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Visual Judging of Dong Ding Oolong Tea.

I remember a third generation tea farmer from Nantou once taught me what to look for in High Mountain oolong.
"Anything lower than 700M is not considered as High Mountain," He begins. "The harsher and more extreme the growing environment, the tastier the tea is..... and it's all about the sheen, the oil on the surfaces of each pallets." He concluded.

All good quality tea should have shine and glossy liveliness visually. Like the eye of fresh fish. Even a 50 years aged sheung puerh should have the light beaming off it's surface. The oil on the surface of an aged high fired oolong might get semi-matte in 5 years, but once you pour hot water over it, the leaves and the brew should have this clear, bright lively shine to it. These are some of my basic rules when judging oolong.

A Winter 2009 Dong Ding oolong, roasted and grown by one of the most celebrated 5th generation master in Dong Ding mountain. Traditional medium roasted with lonyan charcoal. The pallets are dark hunter green, heavy on the palm and with good oily surface. Chiseled and Structured aroma of grain, lilac, dried peach, sweet katsuo-bushi on the nose. And fresh mountain breeze after the rinse.

The Tea Gallery. NYC

Brewing Parameter:
100ml '70s Gaiwan / 6 grams of tea / full boiled fresh polandspring water.
Flush rinse / sit 30 s. /1st - flush/ 2nd - 10s / 3rd - 20s / sit 1 mins / 4th - 30s / 5th - 60s. All boiling crab-eye temp.

Liquor Color and Aroma:
Golden orange yellow. Clear and glossy. Steep color gets darker orange till the 5th brew. Roasted barley, flower, nectar, bushy, seaweed, fruity and wet moss. Clear refreshing character of clean and thick mouth feel followed with long lasting sweet fruit/peach aftertaste after 30 sec. on the palate.

Ending Notes:
Calming and robust of high mountain Taiwanese oolong quality. Clean and refreshing, the astringent character quickly changed from bitter/pungent to sweet and savory after 3 sec. These changes are comfortable and rewarding, unlike most of the lower grade tea, which tends to stay astringent/bitter for a long time and the pleasant surprise never delivers.


Michael Vincent said...

Good advice Toki, thanks for sharing. And well done on using Poland Spring water from my home state of Maine. I think it's great for making tea too!

Rich said...

Pretty leaves!

So the 3rd gen tea farmer considers 700m the cut-off point for high mtn teas? Did he produce Dong Ding and would he consider DD to be a high mtn tea?

toki said...

Thanks Mike, and cheers to the pure Maine spirit! Been a dedicated Poland fan.

And RT thanks for dropping by. Dong Ding is a mountain range. There is a big difference between low land (below 700m) and above (Gou Shan) High mountain plantation. Just like Phoenix High Mountain and mass produced low land DanCong oolong. Hope this helps. Cheers ~ T

Rich said...

Hey Toki, I see. DD mtn produces so little tea in comparison to the low-lying areas; nice to see that you were able to find some that you consider to be good. I'll have to try some from Tea Gallery soon.

Unknown said...

Very informative... thanks for sharing.

author said...

Finally someone talks about oils. The glossiest most beautiful tea I ever saw was a keemun from Imperial Tea (shown to me in large storage container) who told me I must look for oils' gloss and sheen. (Hi Betta!)

- Janine

Chris said...

I really like that gaiwan and, in particular, the shape of the saucer.

Beautiful photos, as always!

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