Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Le Palais des Thés
Oolong tea lovers consider it one of Taiwan’s best.
Oolong tea with intermediate oxidation (30-40%). Naturally low in caffeine.
The tea is named Ding Dong (“Icy Peak” in Taiwanese) after the mountain that overshadowed the village of Lu Gu and its lake. It is the principal example of tea rolled into large, very dense pearls.
The pearl-shaped leaf is semi-oxidized, giving the liquor a unique yellow-orange color.
Its scent is both silky and intense, and its taste combines the flowery aspects of the less oxidized oolong teas with the fruitier, woodier Fancy teas. This exceptional harvest should be enjoyed according to the rules of Gong Fu Cha.
Learn more about this tea here.
When it comes to fine Oolong teas like this Dong Ding Oolong from Palais Des Thes – from their Grand Cru collection of teas – it’s important to understand that proper brewing is important. If you don’t have one already, I’d highly recommend picking up a gaiwan.
I did a quick google search on “Easy Gaiwan” looking for a source for the gaiwan that I use. I didn’t find what I was looking for within a few minutes (about 15 minutes actually) so I gave up that search and told myself that someday, I’ll do a more in depth search for it. For now, I will say that as I was searching I found many well thought out blog posts in defense for the use of a gaiwan so I don’t feel like I really need to go into the reasons for a gaiwan in depth here, so instead I’ll just say this:
After having brewed teas in just about any way you can imagine, I’ve found that the best way to steep an Oolong is with a Gaiwan, using short steeps. I get the best flavor and the most infusions this way. And really, when I drink tea, I drink it because I enjoy the flavor. So why not take that extra step and grab the tool that will get the best flavor out of the tea? Especially when using a gaiwan, especially an “easy gaiwan” like I own – is so easy!
If you want more a more in depth article on why you should be using a gaiwan for your Oolong brewing – google it. Trust me. You’ll find more than enough information that will convince you.
Anyway, let’s get back to this review.
To brew this tea, I did use my gaiwan (surprise, surprise) and I added a bamboo scoop of tea to the bowl of the gaiwan and then added just enough hot water (180°F) to cover the leaves for a quick rinse. I let the tea steep for 15 seconds and strained the liquid, discarding it. Then I infused the rinsed leaves for 45 seconds for the first infusion, and with each subsequent infusion, I added 15 seconds to the steep time.
The aroma is sweet, floral and slightly nutty. These essences translate to the flavor, although I taste more nutty tones than I smell, and there are fewer floral notes than the fragrance led me to think there would be.
The sip begins with a strong honey-like flavor with hints here and there of flower. Shortly after the start, I pick up on sweet, creamy notes that transform into a stronger nutty presence. This is a very smooth tea from start to finish, and in this cup (a combination of infusions 1 and 2), I am getting virtually no astringency to speak of. It is not bitter. It’s just pleasant and lovely from beginning to end and then an aftertaste that is almost equally as enjoyable with hints of flower and luscious sweetness.
The second cup (infusions 3 and 4) is just as smooth as the first cup. It’s not quite as creamy as the first cup was, but it’s still quite sweet and pleasantly nutty. The floral notes are beginning to emerge slowly, but they aren’t sharp or overly aggressive. They are soft, delicate flowery essences that mingle with the sweet nutty notes. It’s almost like a sweet corn flavor – only sweeter than any corn I’ve ever tasted. Like a sweet creamed corn with notes of butter.
With the last cup (infusions 5 and 6), I started to pick up on a light astringency. This cup was lighter – not as creamy. The nutty flavors are still present and it’s still a pleasantly sweet cuppa. I found the aforementioned sweet creamed corn notes still present although it wasn’t as “creamy” as creamed corn this time, it tasted more like corn on the cob that had been roasted and then very lightly buttered. The floral notes have emerged in a more prominent way now and I can taste distinct notes of orchid and even hints of jasmine.
A really enjoyable Dong Ding! Recommended to all tea lovers!