Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Traditional (Dong Ding) Concubine Oolong

The world of tea is constantly copying what is successful elsewhere. And sometimes the copy acquires its own character and becomes an innovation. Concubine (guei fei) Oolong started as some kind of Oriental Beauty imitation when organic plantations started to become more popular and farmers wanted to find a market for their summer harvests.

There were trials and errors along the way. Farmers tried both twisted and rolled leaves, jinxuan and qingxin Oolong cultivars, various levels of oxidation and roasting... You could (and still can) get very different teas called Concubine Oolong. For teas that have been around for decades, it's pretty easy to define what's behind the name. It's more difficult with a new tea like concubine Oolong, a tea I first encountered 10 years ago.
But I think that we have now reached a point where the quintessential concubine Oolong can be defined as combining the OB and Dong Ding characters. Organic farming, tea jassid bites, high oxidation level for OB and Qingxin Oolong leaves, rolled and deep roasted in the style Dong Ding Hung Shui Oolong.  
I tasted this spring's Dong Ding Concubine Oolong this morning once again. It's a wonderful example of this successful combination of pure, sweet notes from the high oxidation with the powerful taste of the Dong Ding terroir and the slow roasting.
It's thicker and deeper than Oriental Beauty. The scents are different than both OB and Hung Shui Oolong. They are riper and fruitier than Hung Shui Oolong. There's a unity and harmony in the aromas of this Concubine Oolong. It has its own delicious character and I hope that it can be preserved in the years to come.
Innovation rarely create something entirely new. Most of the time innovation builds on past successes!
From small dry leaf to unfurled leaf

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