Thursday, February 13, 2014

Winter 2013 Hung Shui Oolong from Yong Lung

Cultivar: Luanze (Qingxin) Oolong
Harvested by hand on November 30th, 2013.
Origin: Yong Long village, Dong Ding area, Central Taiwan
Process: Hungshui Oolong (= more oxidized than for a high mountain Oolong and medium to strong roast).

In the past, I often had traditional Dong Ding Oolongs from Feng Huang village. Today, I'm glad to introduce one that comes from the Yong Lung village that is also part of the Dong Ding area.

1. View.
It's not a competition Oolong, as we can see that the stems haven't been removed from the leaves. This is a reason why it's a little bit cheaper than the competition Dong Ding Oolong I had this spring. Its quality, however, is as good or even better than that of the competition Dong Ding Oolongs I could taste this winter!
The brew is very bright and clear.
2. Scents
Ripe fruits and hazelnut fragrances. It's a very traditional, very familiar, roasted Oolong fragrance. What I like about this particular batch is the finesse and purity of this fragrance. There are no burned smells due to a too strong roasting.

3. Taste
In competition mode (3 grams for 6 minutes), I noticed a good harmony in the taste and a long lasting aftertaste. There was also a dry taste from the prolonged roasting ; this is normal and to be expected from a very recently roasted Oolong. What's important is that it doesn't overpower the brew and turns bitter. Here, in the end, the taste is clean and very sweet. 
The open leaves show the presence of many buds. They are the reason for these very elegant flavors. We can also see that the leaves open up well and haven't hardened due to an excessive fire. On the contrary, the Hungpei (roasting) has well preserved the freshness of these leaves. This tea also has a delicious 'Wuyi suan', a slightly sour note that makes the mouth salivate with pleasure.
Brewing techniques and advice for this tea:

1. Using a good Yixing teapot can help smoothen and deepen the taste. But you can also brew it in a gaiwan to distinguish its aromas more precisely.
2. The first pours should be rather slow, since the roast is very recent. (Water still needs to have reached boiling point. Don't lower the temperature, or it will taste dull, but pour with care.)
3. The longer you let it rest in a porcelain jar, the more it will loose this dry roasting. Then, it will be possible to use more strength in the first pours.
4. Brew it with relatively fewer leaves the first times. The recent roast increases the flavors' strength, so it's wise to compensate with fewer leaves. Otherwise, you may be surprised by a brew that is too concentrated for your taste. 
This refinement and balance of this Oolong from Yong Lung is a wonderful reminder of the beauty of traditionally roasted Dong Ding Oolongs. And they are becoming popular again: this winter's Dong Ding competition attracted over 6100 lots, while usually that number is just above 5000!
Mini qinghua jar and 'ivory' flower cup

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