Tuesday, August 24, 2021

A tea trip to the Qilin pond

Qilin pond at the foot of Dong Ding

The Qilin pond is at the heart of the Dong Ding region. The slopes on the right lead to the village of Dong Ding. When you take the road on the left, you first pass the village of Yong Lung and then you arrive at Feng Huang, the highest village of this famous tea region in central Taiwan. Far away, we can even see the mountains of Shan Lin Xi piercing through the afternoon clouds. 

This spot overlooking the lake is really ideally located to drink some of the best competition Dong Ding Oolong! The air is filled with the same sweet fragrances of flowers that escape from the leaves.  

We can even see Oolong plantations from this table! So, let's have some competition Dong Ding Oolong!
Porcelain gaiwan or Yixing zisha is a matter of personal choice and taste. Those who love the freshly roasted aromas may actually prefer the gaiwan. And those who like to brew smooth, but strong, can use a small shuiping teapot!
The farmer who has roasted my 2021 spring competition Dong Ding Oolong won the competition less than 10 years ago. He told me that this year the roasting level is coming back to the level it was when he won. In the meantime, the judges had been pushing for very strong roasts. Now it's getting more reasonable again. 
Maybe this was somewhat influenced by Wuyi's Yancha, the grand father of Dong Ding Oolong. The commercial YanCha are too much roasted, so that (Chinese) tea drinkers may have come to expect this from Dong Ding Oolong as well. 
Anyway, now it's back to a more reasonable level. It makes a lot of sense, because the farmers have their best plantations in the higher elevations of Shan Lin Xi. So, the best competition Dong Ding teas have already be coming from the mountains (and not the Dong Ding region) for a while. A lighter roasts helps to preserve the finesse of the aromas. The leaves unfurl better and, most importantly, the freshness can still be felt at the end of a very long and powerful aftertaste. 

So much happens in this aftertaste: salivation, sweetness, a dry feeling on the tongue, the natural scents of Dong Ding playing on the palate...!
And now that I'm drinking this competition Oolong at home, it brings me back to that spot  with a view on the Dong Ding tea plantations,
the Qilin pond and the green mountains of central Taiwan.
Have a nice tea trip!

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