Another of the teas included in the Dong Ding oolong sampler I purchased last year, this particular tea is a blend of Cui Yu and Jin Xuan cultivars that were rested and roasted together. According to the folks at Taiwan Tea Crafts, many high mountain oolongs are actually blends of several cultivars, though tea masters often refuse to acknowledge it. I don’t know how true that is since I have not yet bothered to look into it, but I can state that I got a great deal of enjoyment out of this particular blend.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was followed by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 13 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, I detected aromas of baked bread, butter, char, and dark wood coming from the dry tea leaves. After the rinse, I found aromas of vanilla and toasted grain with touches of flowers and sugarcane. The folks at Taiwan Tea Crafts mentioned getting a custard aroma after the rinse, but I didn’t get it at this point. The first proper infusion brought out a scent of cream and more distinct floral aromas reminiscent of both orchids and lilies. The mouth offered a curveball out of the gate, as I immediately detected mild notes of toasted grain, sugarcane, vanilla, pear, golden raisin, and caramelized banana that were chased by subtle char, cream, and butter notes with some grassy, muddled vegetal character on the back of the throat after the swallow. Subsequent infusions brought out orchid and daylily in the mouth accompanied by subtle woodiness and hints of baked bread here and there. New impressions of minerals, apple, toast, grass, watercress, banana leaf, custard, daylily shoots, cinnamon, orange, and brown sugar emerged as well. The later infusions mostly offered flat, somewhat muted notes of minerals, sugarcane, butter, apple, and pear backed by ghostly undertones of cream, grass, toasted grain, and daylily shoots.

A unique Dong Ding oolong that was extremely aromatic and flavorful with more than respectable longevity, my only real knock on this tea was the somewhat flat, static mouthfeel throughout the majority of the session. If the tea had been just a touch more dynamic and lively, I would be unapologetically raving about it. Texture and body, however, both mean a lot to me. It may seem like I am being a bit harsh here, but understand that I still think this was a more or less wonderful tea. I would not have an issue recommending it to fans of roasted Taiwanese oolongs.

Flavors: Apple, Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Char, Cinnamon, Cream, Custard, Dark Wood, Floral, Grain, Grass, Mineral, Orange, Orchid, Pear, Raisins, Sugarcane, Toast, Toasted, Vanilla, Vegetal

195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.



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