What Oolong Are You Drinking

Semi-oxidized tea
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Bok
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Fri Feb 14, 2020 11:56 pm

Rare treat from a friend: this years Dongding competition winner :shock:

Surprisingly it is quite heavily roasted, yet not to an extent that it has killed off the underlying flavours and layers of complexity. Clean tasting and with some stamina. Overall it is a more elegant and refined version of the most typical DD flavour profile that one normally finds. As such it is a very nice tea, yet not the most interesting as it is so mainstream in its characteristics, just in a luxury version. Still got a good amount left to further play with it, to see if my initial impression holds up.

At a retail of 20 000 NT(about 6600USD and normally does not reach the open market) for 600g, I wouldn't buy it, as it is not many 1000s of dollars better than even the best Dongding I could afford so far. It's just not in relation. Good to know that the best DD money can buy is not necessarily the best DD. Still a far stretch though from most DDs, even the better ones.

Makes me also wonder how some teas advertised as DD competition winners (not 1st prize) can be sold as cheap as they are, comparatively? I do wonder...
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Bok
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Fri Feb 14, 2020 11:59 pm

This mainstream kind of samey flavour profile of Dongding competition winners I have noticed several times so far(not all 1st prize but also runner-ups) and is a problem discussed by many in Taiwan. The catering of the tea makers to the palate of the judges. As such making it a rather one dimensional and predictable affair...
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Tor
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Sat Feb 15, 2020 5:16 am

Bok wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 11:59 pm
This mainstream kind of samey flavour profile of Dongding competition winners I have noticed several times so far(not all 1st prize but also runner-ups) and is a problem discussed by many in Taiwan. The catering of the tea makers to the palate of the judges. As such making it a rather one dimensional and predictable affair...
I look at it differently. The judges have to score the teas objectively, following the rules they’ve agreed upon. So naturally the characters of the high score ones will converge to something that they consider ‘good tea’. On the contrary, if they score the teas according to their palate, the result would be all over the place.

Just wondering, if the tea has some jasmin note, should we consider it a plus or a defect?

Just a novice’s two cents. :P
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Bok
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Sat Feb 15, 2020 5:43 am

@Tor generally speaking yes.

In this particular case it is widely known that the taste of Dongding changed to please those judges palate, they’re the same since some time.

I’ve had DD competition winners from way before their time in the 90s and it’s a totally different tea. I’ve equally had a lot of premium Dongding recently which is objectively magnificent and totally different to the mainstream. The maker of one of those I talked to not long ago, doesn’t even bother to participate (his teas are already excruciatingly expensive) as many see the current system as rigged.
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Bok
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Sat Feb 15, 2020 5:44 am

Jasmin in a Dongding I would find rather bizarre... did you ever encounter that?
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Sat Feb 15, 2020 6:02 am

Bok wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 11:59 pm
As such making it a rather one dimensional and predictable affair...
On the one hand, competition requires scoring. When scoring, you will often have judges use "objective" evaluation criteria that will tend to move the results away from scoring purely based on enjoyment, but in addition to that you have an aggregation of scores which will cause teas that are well appreciated by most judges to rise above those that are appreciated to a supreme degree by fewer ones, including outliers that one (but not everyone) will either love or hate.

On the other hand, in terms of marketing (because these competitions surely have as a goal to increase the visibility of the chosen type of tea both locally and internationally), there is an incentive to having winners that are good but also similar to the overall offer to the market. This provides indirect value to the non-winners, because if consumers rely somewhat on judges to tell what good Dong Ding is, and judges choose winners that are representative of what is produced the most, then that tends to increase consumer fidelity to the current producers and methods.

I really know next to nothing about this competition or Dong Ding tea. But logically speaking, it would make sense to me that competitions centered on a specific type of tea would often yield winners that are representative of the mainstream understanding of what that type of tea is about.
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Tor
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Sat Feb 15, 2020 8:31 am

Bok wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 5:44 am
Jasmin in a Dongding I would find rather bizarre... did you ever encounter that?
No, I haven’t. I just raised it up as an example to show that competitions can be designed to serve different purposes. It can either endorse some set standards, or promote creativity and diversification.

Anyway, competitions are just that. I don’t think anybody really think that Miss Universe is the most beautiful woman in the world (or universe). :lol:
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Sat Feb 15, 2020 8:36 am

@Tor very true! I for one am happy my taste is different to the judges, otherwise those teas become too expensive for me :)
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Sat Feb 22, 2020 4:54 am

Xinrenxiang Dancong from Phoenix mountain. Thinking of the nice shop owner I bought it from in the Guangzhou tea market, the world’s largest - which is now probably deserted and throwing lots of businesses into economic uncertainty...

Clean tasting and subtle in its expression, while not the best I’ve had, still very good and comparatively reasonable priced.
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debunix
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Sat Feb 22, 2020 6:20 pm

Dea-ip-cha Balhyocha from Dosim Dawan, purchased via Morning Crane Tea, deep, earthy, fruity, rich. The tea is so fine, infused in a Petr Novak treebark teapot, and enjoyed from a new chawan also by Petr. I love love love Balhyocha.
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Victoria
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Mon Feb 24, 2020 4:59 pm

That was one great oolong that you shared @debunix, I could sip on it daily, although it’s so good it’s probably best reserved for special occasions.

Revisiting an oolong that I reserve for special moments because it has a combination of notes that are hard to find; sweet evergreen, muscatel, and artichoke with a buttery sweet viscous liquor. Sourced by Elena from Té Company, Royal Courtesan is a jassid bitten Qingxin cultivar from Nantou. I like to let this oolong steep longer than most 6.5g/130ml/203f/2min in pre-heated Yamada Sou 145ml shudei kyusu. The lingering empty cup aroma is complex and wonderfully thick.
oolongfan
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Mon Feb 24, 2020 8:01 pm

The last few days I have been tasting through some incredible oolongs from Ethan Kurland.

Da Yu Ling - High mountain, lightly oxidized green oolong. Dry leaves have lovely soft floral spring grass aroma that is also found in the cup. Lovely sweet green pea, spring grass, and soft floral notes. Hints of barely sweet green melon on the end. This tea reminds me of those early fragarent spring winds that smell of green grass and fresh cut hay with widlflowers mingled in. Lovely thick oily texture. This is an exquisitely refined and balanced tea . Beautiful leaves that should be allowed to fully expand...a little leaf goes a long way. The antithesis of those nuclear green oolongs with one dimensional heavy handed florals. I kept sniffing the empty bag for days afterward because of the lingering refined perfumed notes. A lovely sample provided by Ethan. Look forward to getting more soon.

1998 Aged Lishan 22 Years - Traditional roasted oolong. Lovely aromatic wood-cedar and incense notes, golden plums, parhcment with incredible tart sour candied lemon note on back end. The first few light steeps reminded me of Norbu's 2007 Mei Zhan in terms of the aromatic wood-cedar, incense, and golden plums notes and having heavy roast notes like some oolongs of similar age. The unobscured fruit and cedar notes made this seem younger, especially when brewed lightly. Over the session, I pushed a few steeps and got a wonderful buckwheat honey grainy chewy texture. The tart sour candied lemon note was very unique in my limited experience with aged oolongs. I loved it as it seemed to balance and lightness the heavier aged incense notes and thick texture.

Durng another session, I added less leaves and was rewarded with perfumed oolong notes, parchment, unsweetened fortune cookie, and golden plums while the aromatic wood-cedar and incense notes moved back a little, allowing the former to really shine. During this session I also noticed some lovely perfumed oolong roast notes, which I had not noticed during the first more leaf heavy session.

I have the feeling that this tea posses many faces, all waiting to reveal themselves as leaf ratio and other brewing parameters are changed. A beautiful aged oolong that seems at tims younger than its years while other times posessing a majectic aged quality.

Oriental Beauty (Thng Fang Mei Jea) - This nearly stole my heart, despite its stellar company. I have a hard time describing its unique flavor profile so let me suggest that you smell the dry leaves, for their wonderful fragerance is found in the cup. I spent quite a bit of time just sticking my nose in the bag and inhaling because the perfume was so intoxicating. Spices, beautiful candied Chinese plums, hints of light incense, honey, parchemnt, hints of that nutty note unique to OB (well to my taste), tart sour green apple on the end. Underneath there are hints of both sweet blackstrap molasses mingled with savory Japanese soy suace. The flavors keep switching places in the order inwhich they introduce themselves yet always preceeded by incredible complex spices. I loved the tart sour green apple note which provided contrasting soft acidity to the spices notes. Despite the generous amount of tea in this order, my first impulse was to immediately buy another bag - in case this tea were to run out (God forbid).

As I said to Ethan, these oolongs reminded me why I chose my teaforum moniker 'oolongfan'. I have been down the puerh rabbit hole as of late plus my meagre budget means my oolong stash has dwindled down to almost nothing. After tasting these teas, I am reminded why oolong teas were my first love...and why I need to stock back up on them. I was chagrined that I did not have my usual favorites from Norbu and Leafy Green to drink along side these lovely teas.

Thank you Ethan for such lovely teas, they deepened my oolong tea eduaction. Look forward to trying more.
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RinsedSloth
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Thu Feb 27, 2020 1:52 pm

The first review I want to post that I had a few years ago is a rougui that fascinated me, just a bit special. Tiger style rogui 2019, 3,5g/50ml gaiwan.

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Dry leaves had a fragant and addictive smell, no roast, just what you think when imagining any yancha, that sweet spicyness that you can often get when you are smelling a medium roast. Could keep at it forever without starting the session, something no other kind of tea can beat yancha on for me.

Dry rinse is something I like to do, preheat my gaiwan, put the leaves, shake shake and wait some seconds, amplified aroma, thinking already how good and intense it is going to be.

The first steep brought everything, no wet rinse, just a long ~30/40sec steep right after and believe me it made the session already worth it regardless of how the other steeps would turn or last. The aroma in the glencairn was like a needle to my nose, high pitched and dry, love it, something I got in other yanchas and really appreciate it, not your usual moist, humid and sweet aroma like shu for example. Then it just made a switcheroo and became deep and overwhelming, never got it before, was already experimenting how far this could go. Moved the glencairn just like whisky, from one nostril to the other, getting different sides of the aroma, was spicy, cinnamon, nutmeg, demerara sugar all blent in to create a more addictive smell than the ones in the dry leaves.

Just when sipping for the first time it started to dance in my mouth, no astringency just the high pitched aroma that moved into the cup and a sweet aftertaste that captivated me, couldn't focus properly, got a dark honey flavour, almost tingling that really stuck me.

The second to third steeps vere similar, getting even sweeter while dissipating the high pitched notes only to leave the fragance naked, to properly focus on the aftertaste and think about what changed from there.

The fourth one was clean, almost like juice, a nectar, from grapefruit or blood oranges slightly astringent but can't describe how pleasant it was.

Going to the fifth steep it keept the body, was already going weak and tasted it cold, to get the most of it.

At the end drank a cup of the first steep, got a blast again while describing the flavours and left a sixth steep brewing meanwhile for later.

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I still need to do a side by side with regular rougui to see if I can get better the yun, but definitely the best session I ever had from a yancha.
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Youzi
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Fri Feb 28, 2020 11:19 am

@RinsedSloth
How's the glencairn for tea? Just today the idea came to my mind, and suddenly I find your post, the only one mentioning the glencairn glass, on this forum :D

I found that keeping the cup warm is crucial for experiencing the aroma of the tea, to the fullest.

My initial problem with the glencairn seems, that it's quite thin, seems to cool down quite fast.

What are your findings?
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RinsedSloth
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Sun Mar 01, 2020 1:30 pm

Youzi wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 11:19 am
RinsedSloth
How's the glencairn for tea? Just today the idea came to my mind, and suddenly I find your post, the only one mentioning the glencairn glass, on this forum :D

I found that keeping the cup warm is crucial for experiencing the aroma of the tea, to the fullest.

My initial problem with the glencairn seems, that it's quite thin, seems to cool down quite fast.

What are your findings?
Hello Youzi! You should really experiment with it, interesting experience and liking it very much. It is becoming a fad in my circle, pretty helpful that I already had one at home because of how much I like my scotch.

Having tried a taiwanese aroma cup and this cup makes me notice a huge difference on how well it does concentrate the aromas, you also can keep on smelling while in the cup. As you said it is a pretty thin glass but when it is too hot the aromas are difficult to get, really overwhelming, so letting it cool a bit gives you the full picture with quality. The only downisde is that the shape is not great for drinking big amounts at once, more designed to taste little sips from the dram but not uncomfortable so you can still use it as a regular cup like I do and the bottom is perfect to hold it while hot.

I would love to hear your thoughts about it if you decide to try ;)
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