Dong Pian (Winter Sprout), 2014

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Oolong Tea
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From Red Blossom Tea Company

Called “Dong Pian” in Chinese, Winter Sprout is by far our most unusual tea acquisition from Taiwan. Formosa winter teas are typically picked from mid-to-late November. If the winter is mild enough, the tea plant will sometimes grow a new sprout before slipping into cold weather dormancy.

Our Winter Sprout comes from this secondary growth, picked in mid-January 2014, 45 days after the main winter harvest. It comes from a 1500 meter tea garden on San Lin Xi in Nantou, Taiwan. Because the tea was picked during the plant’s dormant period, the leaves lack the vegetal compounds characteristic of Formosa oolongs, but they possess much higher sugar content.

As sugar maple sap is tapped in the winter months then boiled down for maple syrup, the craftsmanship of this tea accentuates the leaves’ innate sweetness. Once picked, the leaves undergo thirty hours of oxidation before they are slowly baked at 85 degrees centigrade for eight hours a day over the course of two days. From harvest to completion, this tea took nearly six days to craft. The end result is a Formosa oolong that is sublimely sweet and creamy, reminiscent of golden sugar cane, caramel, and cotton candy – yes, that pink fluffy stuff you used to like as a kid.

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