I’m continuing to make progress on the backlog here. This was the last tea in my Dong Ding sampler that I got around to trying mostly because I was a little intimidated by its reputation. I did not want to try it until I was certain that I would not screw it up, finally getting to that point in mid-late June. Naturally, I am just now finding the motivation to review it on Steepster. Anyway, this was an excellent tea, and I could easily see why most other reviewers loved it. That being said, I tend to feel that these super high end competition teas do not represent the best value to regular tea drinkers and would not recommend a tea like this over some of Taiwan Tea Crafts’ other Dong Ding oolongs. Honestly, it was not even my favorite in that particular sampler tin despite its quality.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 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, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, I detected aromas of char, wood, toasted rice, and vanilla. After the rinse, I discovered a new roasted grain aroma. The first infusion then introduced a hint of cream to the nose. In the mouth, I picked up light notes of cream, roasted grain, and toasted rice that were chased by impressions of butter, wood, and maple candy on the swallow. The following infusions introduced clear spruce and pine-like aromas with some sugary maple candy touches and hints of pear, apple, and roasted nuts. Stronger butter notes and vanilla came out in the mouth. New impressions of banana leaf, coffee, grass, minerals, apple, pear, roasted almond, roasted cashew, pine, roasted hazelnut, sour plum, and roasted walnut also appeared along with some fleeting sugarcane hints. The final infusions were very smooth, offering lingering cream, vanilla, and toasted rice notes up front before transitioning to reveal subtler notes of minerals, butter, grass, and roasted nuts. Interestingly, I also got an uptick in pine character on the swallow that was accompanied by belatedly emerging juniper and olive oil hints on the lengthiest infusions.

This was a very complex Dong Ding oolong with a gradually shifting mouthfeel and nice body in the mouth. Its profile was interesting, steadily evolving, and very appealing overall. Even when I cut the review session off, I got the impression that this tea still had a little life left to it, so I have no clue what else it would have revealed. It was an excellent tea, though it was definitely something more suited to special occasions or situations in which intense focus must be maintained during the brewing and drinking processes. So, while I loved it, this probably would not be a tea for everyone or one I would choose to have on a regular basis if it were available to me. I don’t know. This was a great tea, but there are funner, more accessible, and less intense Dong Ding oolongs out there.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Butter, Char, Coffee, Cream, Grain, Grass, Hazelnut, Herbaceous, Maple, Mineral, Nutty, Olive Oil, Pear, Pine, Plum, Roasted, Sugarcane, Toasted Rice, Vanilla, Vegetal, Walnut, Wood

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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