Last time I visited Camellia Sinensis, Emery Street in Montreal, I convinced myself to buy a Taiwanese oolong. I quite enjoy the flavor they give off, and it has been a while since I drank this kind of tea. For me, winter doesn’t call for a green oolong. Winter rhymes with darker teas : aged raw Pu Erh, ripe Pu Erh, roasted oolongs (Wuyi oolongs and cooked ball rolled teas). As spring gets closer – even though it’s still snowy up in Montreal – I need to get in the mood for fresh teas coming in the next few months. Today, I offer you my view on an unroasted Dong Ding oolong, sourced by Camellia Sinensis via Mr Chang, directly in Taiwan.
For this tea, I used 11 grams of leaves in a 150 ml gaiwan. The temperature of the water was set at 95C. For this review, I will go through 4 infusions, ranging from 35 seconds to 50 seconds. The fourth steep for me is to assess if the tea can be pushed hard and still deliver a good flavor.
The dry leaves
The dry leaves show a dark green color, and rolled up into balls, typical taiwanese oolong fashion. The smell I’m getting off the leaves is very fruity (Tropical fruits : citrus / mango), floral (liliac / white flowers) and vegetal. I was smelling off a heated gaiwan.
The wet leaves
After a quick 5 seconds rinse, the leaves gave off a very intoxicating aroma. The exotic fruits are really coming through. If I close my eyes, I could believe I’m in a field of flowers. There was also a strong vegetal background, which made me think about setting up a garden for the springtime (fresh vegetal, young plants). The we leaves give an insight into the picking method. Three leaves and no buds were harvested from the tea bush. Typical picking for oolong teas.
The tea liquor
Right off the bat, the first infusion is green-yellow in color. It gets greener as infusion goes.
The brewed tea
- The first steep I did was 35 seconds, to give a chance to the tightly rolled leaves to unfurl. First of all, the texture is very viscous. It’s thick and juicy. This infusion was really sweet and fruity, a bit like ground cherry and tropical fruits combined (mango / coconut). The finish offers a nice vegetal note, a little bit like fresh cut herbs. Smelling the empty Cha hai offers a strong freshly toasted coconut smell. Very unique !
- The second steep I did was 25 seconds. Now that the leaves started to wake up and unfurl, I reduced the steeping time. This infusion welcomed me with an ‘’in your face’’ fruitiness, and it was still very sweet and viscous. Even when the gaiwan is closed, the aroma fills up the entire room. The vegetal notes start to take up more space in the tasting notes. The finish on this steep is very long and floral. Breathing out the nose after the last sip really bring out the floweriness.
- The third steep I did was 35 seconds. The vegetal notes moved up front, reminding me of fresh cut vegetables. Though, the tea was still very fruity and sweet, despite the vegetal aspect taking over the taste buds. There was also a hint of sourness coming through, but it was quite pleasant. Slowly but surely, the texture started to lose its thickness and viscosity.
- The fourth steep I did was 50 seconds, to see if the tea can be pushed harder and still be pleasant in the mouth. This brew was very vegetal and floral. There was a hint of fruitiness in the background, mostly something I associate with ground cherries. The fruitiness was slowly fading off. The sourness was still there, but very enjoyable. I believe this tea can be easily pushed past the fourth infusion, and it will be more of a casual brew. It will lose its complexity.
This tea is very relaxing. In my opinion, it’s not a tea that you can get ‘’tea drunk’’ (Gittery and hyper) off of. The Qi is very calming : my mind was more focused on things I had to do. I don’t think this tea would prevent me from sleeping. It’s a great late night partner if you want to get stuff done.
Overall, this tea is a great example of what comes out of Taiwan in terms of quality. Affordable, yet, complex and enjoyable for many steeps. Gong fu style is where it’s at to get the most out of this tea. But drinking it in a bowl, grandpa style, while continuously adding water would also be great. I think it’s a great daily green oolong from Taiwan. Makes me want more !
Jayscore : 8,5 / 10