Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: dark, tightly rolled
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
I have a soft spot in my heart for Taiwanese oolongs, particularly Dong Ding. It was one of the first teas that I really became obsessed with when I first started down this rabbit hole, so much so that I ordered a cup of it almost daily from a cafe near where I was working at the time. It amazed me that such complex aromas were possible without adding anything to the leaves. Looking back, what I was drinking wasn't the highest quality and the roast was very light. It was what I sometimes call a "nuclear green" oolong.
Our palates can evolve over time and I definitely prefer a darker roast these days. That's why I was excited to see a heavily roasted Dong Ding in a batch of samples sent to me by Leafy Green. They are a fairly new company that works directly with single estate farmers and producers to source teas from across Asia. When I shared a picture of this tea on Instagram, Leafy Green tagged their farmer. Talk about knowing your source! Browsing the farmer's website revealed that this tea was produced with leaves from a garden that is a century old.
The dry leaf was fairly dark and tightly rolled. The aroma was deliciously toasty, especially after I added the leaves to my preheated gaiwan. Leafy Green provided western style brewing instructions for this tea. While I will sometimes do that if there is enough tea to play around with, a gaiwan is my go-to method when reviewing a Taiwanese oolong like this one. The higher leaf to water ratio is a bit of a stress test that will show the flaws of a tea as well as concentrate the volatile compounds that cause us to experience aromas in tea.
The taste of this tea was incredibly sweet. It was like a tea version of the tasty caramelized sugar on top of crème brûlée. Yum! The toastiness that I had experienced in the dry leaf was also echoed in the taste. It reminded me almost of hojicha in that sense. There was no bitterness to speak of at all. It maintained its strength well through multiple infusions. This would be a great choice for those that want to try Taiwanese teas but who aren't big fans of floral aromas. While there was a slight floral note, it was very subtle and stayed in the background.
Have you ever tried this tea? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!