Thursday, June 14, 2012

Winter 2011 Concubine Oolong from Dong Ding

Feng Huang, Dong Ding and Yong Lung are the 3 small villages near Lugu (Nantou county in Central Taiwan) that are at the core of the historical "Dong Ding Oolong" name. In the late 1970s, early1980s, this became the center of Taiwan's tea world, overtaking Wenshan Baozhong. Its peak period lasted until the 1990s when High Mountain Oolongs became most popular. The peak of Shan Lin Shi is just half an hour away!...

To adapt to changing times and tastes, the Oolongs harvested started to be lighter, similar to Gao Shan Oolongs. However, the lower elevation (below 900 meters) meant that Dong Ding Oolong would never be able to replicate the characteristics of high mountain plantations. Around 2005/06, the farmers of Feng Huang innovated with the Concubine Oolong, inspired by Oriental Beauty. At first, it was meant as an organic summer Oolong taking advantage of the green leaf insect bites. But with the growing popularity of organic teas, it now makes sense to also produce Concubine Oolong with spring and winter harvests. These seasons produce finer scents (spring) or tastes (winter).
Cultivar: Luanze/qingxin Oolong
Origin: Feng Huang, Dong Ding

Hand harvested in November 2011 (Winter)
Process: High Oxidation and medium charcoal roast.

Brewing: Neutral porcelain gaiwan. Long brews.


The dry leaves appear very dark and dry.
The brew is orange gold, very transparent and clear.
The leaves open up well, a sign that the roasting was slow and didn't hurt the leaves.


Dark ripe fruits, honey melon. There is also a hint of perfume (Fendi). And, of course, it smells like in the plantation on a sunny day.


Sweet, sweet, sweet. No matter how long I let it brew, I can't get bitter or astringent notes from these leaves! And it's a clean, bright mellow taste. The mouth feels very comfortable. And the aftertaste seems to stay on forever.

For this Cha Xi, I'm using a new Cha Bu (dark with stripes). For the Cha Tuo, I'm using small ancient celadon plates under ivory classic cups. (The symbolism is that there is something green/fresh below the golden taste). As for my plant, I'm using a pine tree bonsai. This winter season plant (=>winter tea) is a symbol for longevity, everlasting youth. Indeed, the taste seems everlasting. While tea doesn't prevent death, we can surely hope that this organic tea will have a positive impact on our health. 

We also brewed it in the hills of Tucheng, outdoors, using a similar setup. After drinking fresh, unroasted high mountain Oolongs, this almost fully oxidized and well roasted roasted provided a nice contrast. The special sweetness was immediately obvious.

The nicest part of this tea's experience is its completely natural, clean, soothing feeling it leaves.

Thanks to its charcoal roasting, it's a tea with an excellent aging potential (longevity!) Storing it in a glazed jar refines it even further.

Also, because of its easy brewability, it's the perfect tea to carry 'on the road'. Even in a thermos, it remains sweet and beautiful, like a wonderful concubine Oolong would be!
Dong Ding Oolong tea is back!
Long live Dong Ding Oolong!
How fitting: a pine tree growing in a tea plantation in Feng Huang!


Charlotte Billabongk said...

Encore un très bel article. J'en profite pour préciser que j'apprécie particulièrement ton blog qui se distingue par son professionnalisme. Je travaille dans le thé depuis 2003, et navigue sur les tea blogs depuis quelques temps seulement. J'ai donc aussi commencé un blog pour partager cette passion du thé qui réunit aujourd'hui de nombreuses personnes. Je me rends souvent en Chine mais ne connait pas encore Taiwan. Mais à travers Tea Masters, je découvre beaucoup de choses intéressantes sur ce pays. L'univers du thé est définitivement inépuisable.

Steph said...

It sounds marvelous! Bai Hao is the first tea that I truly fell in love with, so I'm sure I would like anything in that general style.

Anonymous said...

Très belle photo avec le bonsaï.

Miss Tea Delight said...

We spoke about this tea some time ago and I want to highlight the following qualities: 1)the very clean taste 2)the fruitiness of this tea which I also found in a glass of wine form Saxony (Jan Ulrich) today. The taste profiles are too similar to go unnoticed and very surprising for me. This wine is much deeper than a rose but not as astringent or warming as a red wine and I can draw so many parallels between the two in a few sips of this wine.

TeaMasters said...

Merci Charlotte et Shiokoji.
Thanks Steph and Miss Tea Delight. Thanks for your feedback and your comparison to this German wine. Indeed, I often find that roasted Oolongs have many similarities with wine or even brandy!