Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Taste Test: Dong Ding oolong from It's About Tea

Before I forget, I have to mention that It's About Tea is the name of the locally-owned tea shop in the city where I live. There's another tea outlet, David's Tea, in the mall, but it's a chain and I really don't trust them to know anything.

Anywho! Today's taste test is of an oolong (partially oxidized) tea that I remember having quite an affection for when I first bought it. Let's see if it still impresses!

Dong Ding is a Formosa oolong, Formosa being the old name for Taiwan. The trees that are used to grow Dong Ding were originally transplanted to Taiwan from the Wuyi Mountains in mainland China, another rather famous tea area we'll be getting to eventually.

Dry Leaf

Somewhat large, dark green rolled leaves. The smell is quite nutty with a hint of roasted pumpkin, something I definitely don't remember being there before (and believe me, I've roasted a few pumpkins in my day). Nice aroma, overall.

Brew & Wet Leaf

I've decided I'm going to brew all my oolongs with boiling water now. Research tells me that this is the way to go. Plus, I hate weak tea, and would rather something be overbrewed than under.

So the kettle comes to a boil and I pour the water over the leaves, leave it for about two seconds, then decant. A good hot rinse is good for rolled oolongs like this, since it helps to open up the leaves. Plus, the first infusion (when the leaves are still rolled up) wouldn't taste very good, anyways, hence the decanting.

The second infusion lasts about 30 seconds or so. The liquor is a pale green, with a slightly golden hue, as well. It smells vaguely nutty, but has more of a forest-floor or cooked-vegetable character than anything else. A sip reveals a thick mouthfeel, focusing on the very tip of the tongue. It's not amazing, but it's not bad either. Taste wise, it's kind of sour...reminds me of green apples or raw rhubarb. There is a kind of mineral astringency as well. I quite like the sourness, actually, though some people would probably be turned off by it.

The third infusion is a bit longer than the second. It smells a bit more sweet than the second, and most of the nuttiness is gone, replaced by a stronger cooked green vegetable scent. When tasted, I noticed that the mouthfeel was quite a bit thinner than before, and the mineral astringency was more pronounced. There was also a kind of Brussels sprout greenness which I didn't at all enjoy, but that's probably because I think Brussels sprouts are the Devil. That enjoyable sourness is still there, though.

The fourth and fifth infusions reveal nothing else, and the tea becomes progressively more bland, even when steeped for over three minutes with boiling water. It is nice to note, however, that the tea never became overpoweringly bitter, even towards the end.

Giddy from all the caffeine on an empty stomach, I took one of infused leaves and popped it into my mouth to chew on it. It actually didn't taste horrible. Then again, I also like eating peanut shells, so what do I know?

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