Frozen Summit Oolong Tea from Dachi Tea

FrozenSummitTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Learn more about Dachi Tea’s Kickstarter Campaign Here.

Tea Description:

Also known as a Dong Ding Oolong, this tea has a woodsy aroma with notes of granola and butterscotch, which tease you into a heavy-bodied soup that has the minerality or river rocks and a malty flavor that some say is akin to a carefully crafted Indian Pale Ale. Forget the hollowness of a caffeine rush, this assertive tea comes with a boost of chi that energises you from the inside out and it’s coming to takeover the west! 

Follow Dachi Tea on Facebook.

Taster’s Review:

I love the sweet, nutty notes of a Dong Ding like this Frozen Summit Oolong from Dachi Tea.

The aroma of the dry leaf is nutty, a little sweet and there are some fresh vegetal tones to the fragrance as well.  The leaves are tightly wound into pellets that unfurl slowly as they brew.  The brewed tea has a stronger nutty scent, but I found that the vegetal notes had softened with the brewed cup.  I noticed that as the tea “pellets” began to open, there are quite a few stems in this tea.

To brew this tea, I grabbed my gaiwan and measured a bamboo scoop of tea into the bowl.  Then I heated the water to 180°F and performed a re-awakening rinse for 15 seconds, discarding the liquid.  Then I steeped my first infusion for 45 seconds.  I strained the tea into my teacup and steeped the leaves again, this time for 1 full minute.  I combined the first two infusions into my teacup and now it’s time to enjoy!  (I repeated the process for cups 2 and 3!)

I found the tasting notes from Dachi Tea to be interesting, because I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone describing the nutty notes of a Dong Ding as “granola” but I totally get it.  Yeah, there’s a warm, nutty flavor (and scent) and there is an almost ‘oat-y’ quality to it as well.  Hints of honey too!  I don’t smell (or taste) much of a butterscotch essence – at least not yet.  I look forward to discovering that flavor (hopefully) in the infusions to follow.

The tea has a pleasant, rich mouthfeel.  It is very soothing, like a broth.

Overall, this cup is a light tasting cup – but that light flavor won’t last!  I can already pick up on notes of mineral in the distance and a slight vegetal note to the flavor.  The vegetal note is less obvious than the roasty-toasty, nutty flavors, but every once in a while, I pick up on a slight taste of vegetation with whispers of flower weaving its way into the sip.

I suspect in the next cup, I’ll enjoy stronger flavors and hopefully that butterscotch note will reveal itself!

Ah!  There it is!  The butterscotch!  I can definitely smell it (as well as the nutty notes) in this second cup and I can taste the butterscotch notes too.  This is cup is sweet and nutty – just like the first – but I think that the sweeter notes are even more intense this time around!  Mmm!

I’m tasting fewer of the aforementioned vegetal notes and few of the floral tones that I discovered with the first cup.  I’m also picking up on some light malt notes as mentioned in Dachi’s tasting notes, reminiscent of the few ‘gourmet’ beers that I’ve tasted.  (‘Gourmet’ beers should be interpreted as something that costs $6.99 a can rather than $6.99 a six-pack.)

There is a slightly dry finish to this cup, but I only really notice it when I’m trying to find out if I notice any astringency to the cup.  That is to say, it’s not a strong astringency or something that really stands out unless I’m trying to ‘find’ it.

The third and final cup was smoother than the second.  I found the second cup to be sweeter but the third cup to be more unified and even less astringent than the second.  I pick up on hints of apple in this cup.  The sweet notes are more like honey than they are butterscotch.  The aforementioned malt notes are less noticeable this time.

Overall, this is a really enjoyable cup and I’m thrilled that I got to try it.  I love that Dachi Tea has reached their goal on Kickstarter and will, therefore, be funded.  I also love the packaging of this company!  Inside the box was a beautiful metallic, coppery gift bag that has been labeled with Dachi’s logo, and inside the gift bag are their four flagship Oolong teas.  (So, needless to say, I’ll be reviewing the other three teas very soon!)

This new company approached me to help spread the word about their up-and-coming company as well as their Kickstarter campaign which has been enormously successful.  However, every bit helps, so why not consider supporting Dachi on Kickstarter and get some really great perks in the process (in this case, perks = tea and other great stuff!)  This Kickstarter campaign ends soon!

Dong Ding Oolong Tea from Palais Des Thés

dong-dingTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Le Palais des Thés

Tea Description:

Oolong tea lovers consider it one of Taiwan’s best.

Oolong tea with intermediate oxidation (30-40%). Naturally low in caffeine.

The tea is named Ding Dong (“Icy Peak” in Taiwanese) after the mountain that overshadowed the village of Lu Gu and its lake. It is the principal example of tea rolled into large, very dense pearls.

The pearl-shaped leaf is semi-oxidized, giving the liquor a unique yellow-orange color.

Its scent is both silky and intense, and its taste combines the flowery aspects of the less oxidized oolong teas with the fruitier, woodier Fancy teas. This exceptional harvest should be enjoyed according to the rules of Gong Fu Cha. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

When it comes to fine Oolong teas like this Dong Ding Oolong from Palais Des Thes – from their Grand Cru collection of teas – it’s important to understand that proper brewing is important.  If you don’t have one already, I’d highly recommend picking up a gaiwan.

I did a quick google search on “Easy Gaiwan” looking for a source for the gaiwan that I use.  I didn’t find what I was looking for within a few minutes (about 15 minutes actually) so I gave up that search and told myself that someday, I’ll do a more in depth search for it.  For now, I will say that as I was searching I found many well thought out blog posts in defense for the use of a gaiwan so I don’t feel like I really need to go into the reasons for a gaiwan in depth here, so instead I’ll just say this:

After having brewed teas in just about any way you can imagine, I’ve found that the best way to steep an Oolong is with a Gaiwan, using short steeps.  I get the best flavor and the most infusions this way.  And really, when I drink tea, I drink it because I enjoy the flavor.  So why not take that extra step and grab the tool that will get the best flavor out of the tea?  Especially when using a gaiwan, especially an “easy gaiwan” like I own – is so easy!

If you want more a more in depth article on why you should be using a gaiwan for your Oolong brewing – google it.  Trust me.  You’ll find more than enough information that will convince you.

Anyway, let’s get back to this review.

To brew this tea, I did use my gaiwan (surprise, surprise) and I added a bamboo scoop of tea to the bowl of the gaiwan and then added just enough hot water (180°F) to cover the leaves for a quick rinse.  I let the tea steep for 15 seconds and strained the liquid, discarding it.  Then I infused the rinsed leaves for 45 seconds for the first infusion, and with each subsequent infusion, I added 15 seconds to the steep time.

The aroma is sweet, floral and slightly nutty.  These essences translate to the flavor, although I taste more nutty tones than I smell, and there are fewer floral notes than the fragrance led me to think there would be.

The sip begins with a strong honey-like flavor with hints here and there of flower.  Shortly after the start, I pick up on sweet, creamy notes that transform into a stronger nutty presence.  This is a very smooth tea from start to finish, and in this cup (a combination of infusions 1 and 2), I am getting virtually no astringency to speak of.  It is not bitter.  It’s just pleasant and lovely from beginning to end and then an aftertaste that is almost equally as enjoyable with hints of flower and luscious sweetness.

The second cup (infusions 3 and 4) is just as smooth as the first cup.  It’s not quite as creamy as the first cup was, but it’s still quite sweet and pleasantly nutty.  The floral notes are beginning to emerge slowly, but they aren’t sharp or overly aggressive.  They are soft, delicate flowery essences that mingle with the sweet nutty notes.  It’s almost like a sweet corn flavor – only sweeter than any corn I’ve ever tasted.  Like a sweet creamed corn with notes of butter.

With the last cup (infusions 5 and 6), I started to pick up on a light astringency.  This cup was lighter – not as creamy.  The nutty flavors are still present and it’s still a pleasantly sweet cuppa.  I found the aforementioned sweet creamed corn notes still present although it wasn’t as “creamy” as creamed corn this time, it tasted more like corn on the cob that had been roasted and then very lightly buttered.  The floral notes have emerged in a more prominent way now and I can taste distinct notes of orchid and even hints of jasmine.

A really enjoyable Dong Ding!  Recommended to all tea lovers!

Guìyuán Roasted Dong Ding Oolong from Steepster

The December Steepster Select Box.
Click on the Pic to Subscribe to Steepster Select.

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Steepster Select

Tea Description:

Our Guìyuán Roasted Dong Ding is a classic style produced using the traditional method of hand roasting over charcoal.  Exposure to high heat gently changes the leaf sugar composition to a naturally sweet liquor.

Read other Steepster thoughts on this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The Steepster Select monthly tea tasting box is back and it’s better than ever!  Here are some of the changes that have been implemented since the last tasting box:  first, the boxes include not three but FIVE different teas.  Second, these are truly “samples,” and as a taster, I like that.  I get two (2) one-serving packets of each tea in my box.  Like I said, I like this new feature, it’s just enough tea to allow me to taste it but not so much that I feel overwhelmed by the amount of tea in the box.

The first tea that I’m tasting from this month’s box is this Guìyuán Roasted Dong Ding Oolong from Steepster.  This is an outstanding Dong Ding!  From the moment I opened the sampler pouch, I could smell the roasty-toasty goodness of the Oolong.  It smelled warm and nutty, and evoked thoughts of the smell of a log cabin in the woods with a roaring fire in the fireplace.

The flavor is sweet and smooth.  I notice only a faint astringency with my first cup, which is a combination of the first two infusions following a 15 second rinse.  The nutty tones are sweet and there is almost a creamy texture to this tea that allows the liquid to glide over the palate very smoothly.  This creamy note is almost reminiscent of toasted coconut.

This first cup has a very silky taste and texture!  As I progress to mid-cup, I start to pick up on faint vegetal tones, hints of flower, and insinuations of fruit, but, mostly what I’m tasting is sweet, toasty, nutty flavor with notes of cream, and maybe a hint or two of freshly roasted coffee.

The second cup (infusions 3 and 4) offers more toasty and sweet notes.  I can taste a charcoal-y sort of note along with the still present nutty flavors.  The aforementioned notes of vegetation, flower and fruit are a little stronger now, but they are still distant flavors within the layers of complexity in this cup.  The astringency becomes slightly more dry this time, but it is still not an overly astringent tea.

With my third cup (the fifth and sixth infusions), I began to pick up on more of the fruity notes of this tea, tasting a bit like what a bunch of purple grapes might taste like if it had been grilled over a bed of hot charcoal embers:  the heat encourages the sweetness of the fruit to emerge while there are background notes of tart and touches of toasty, smoky notes.

I’m still tasting notes of charcoal and the nutty flavors, but the nutty flavors are a little less distinct now.  The vegetal and floral tones are still rather distant.  I notice more of a drying sensation with this cup as the finish leads into a mineral-y sort of taste.

With this third cup, I also notice the coffee notes I first tasted in the first cup.  Here, they are beginning to define themselves, tasting a bit more like coffee, complete with that hint of coffee bitterness.  I like how this bitterness contrasts with the sweetness of this cup.

If you’d like to try this tea and the others in this month’s Steepster Select box, I’m currently offering my second sample packages from this month’s box (one of each of the five teas sent in this month’s box) in a sampler at a discounted price.  I only have one of these offers available! Check it out here.

Superfine Taiwan Qing Xiang Dong Ding Oolong Tea from Teavivre

QingXiangDongDingTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Teavivre

Tea Description:

In Taiwan Oolong Tea, Dong Ding Oolong Tea is an excellent kind highly praised by the world. Dong Ding is originally planted on Dongding Mountain, which is a branch of Phoenix Mountain, in Lugu Village, Nantou County, Taiwan. The tea is planted in the area at the altitude of 1000 meters. So this is also a High Mountain tea, which is known as its obvious floral fragrance. This Dong Ding Qing Xiang Oolong Tea is made of the tea leaves from Qing Xin Oolong tea tree. This tea has thick and soft leaf, refreshing tea liquid, with strong osmanthus scent. Meanwhile it has strong sweet aftertaste, which makes High Mountain tea more excellent than low altitude tea.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Superfine Taiwan Qing Xiang Dong Ding Oolong Tea from Teavivre is absolutely lovely!  It’s so sweet and lush, with a creamy mouthfeel and an intriguing flavor that has exotic floral notes as well as hints of fruit. I’m enjoying the complexity and the soft texture.

I brewed this Oolong in my gaiwan.  First I did a quick “rinse” or awakening of the tea leaves, by steeping them in hot water for 15 seconds and then straining off and discarding the liquid.  Then I steeped the first infusion for 1 minute (I meant to infuse it for 45 seconds, but I got distracted and missed the 45 second mark, so it steeped for a full 60 seconds), and the second infusion for 1 minute 15 seconds.  I poured both of these infusions into the same cup.  Subsequent infusions were prepared the same way.

The first cup was lighter in texture than those that followed, but, it still possessed a pleasantly creamy mouthfeel.  It is so silky and smooth.  I taste notes of peach, hints of vegetation (just a slight “grassiness” in the background), and a overtone of floral notes.  There is a faint astringency that is most noticeable at the very end of the sip.  I start to notice a slightly dry sensation.

The second cup was my favorite, and this seems to be typical of my Oolong experiences.  It seems that I always love the second cup best.  It felt soft and smooth to the palate, and it had a flavor that was both floral and fruity.  The vegetative notes have emerged slightly and they added an interesting contrast to the sweet fruit and floral tones.

In subsequent infusions, the flavors became more of a harmonious taste.  The flavor remained sweet, and I started to notice an almost “honey-esque” note in the third and forth cups.

I enjoyed my afternoon spent with this Dong Ding from Teavivre.  An excellent choice for the Oolong enthusiast!

Dong Ding Oolong Tea from Eco-Cha

DongDingTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Eco-Cha

Tea Description:

This batch of tea comes from Yong Long Village, just above Dong Ding Mountain. Yong Long is known for a rich red soil which differs from other locales in Lu Gu Township. The unique flavor of the Dong Ding Oolong produced here is attributed to this soil quality, along with the fact this region is home to the most concentrated population of the most skilled oolong tea artisans in Taiwan.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The fragrance of the dry leaf of this Dong Ding Oolong Tea from Eco-Cha has a strong vegetative tone with hints of roasted nut.  Once brewed, the aroma becomes much more roasty-toasty with the vegetative notes becoming very faint.

And that’s what I’m tasting too.  Up front, I notice the roasted nutty taste, evoking thoughts of freshly toasted chestnuts.  I also notice a slight “coffee-like” flavor … not so much the bitterness of coffee, but the rich, roasted flavor of coffee.  This would be a great tea for the former coffee drinker who misses that “fresh roasted” flavor of coffee but doesn’t miss the caffeine jolt or the nauseating feeling that some of us experience after a cup of joe.

There is not a strong vegetative tone to this first cup (infusions 1 & 2 following the 15 second rinse) … it smells more vegetal than it tastes.  There is a smokiness to this Oolong that complements the chestnut and coffee notes, and there is a very distant “raisin-y” note here too.

The second cup (infusions 3 & 4) brought that raisin note forward, making for a sweeter cup than the first.  This cup still has notes of roasted nuts and coffee, but these two flavors are starting to meld together into a more unified taste.  As I sit here and sip on this tea, I realize what a perfect for autumn tea this Dong Ding Oolong is, because it has flavors to it that remind me of autumn.  The smoke, the chestnut, the warm notes of coffee, even the raisins are very autumnal to me.

The third cup was a bit softer in taste and texture than the second, but not by a lot.  It is still very flavorful.  The flavors are much more seamless now.  The coffee notes are less distinct.  I notice a little more of the vegetative note now, more than I tasted in the first two cups.

A very enjoyable tea.  I really like this company:  Eco-Cha.  The packaging is beautiful, and the tea is of excellent quality!  I like that they get their teas direct from the source, which means a fresher product!  This Dong Ding, for example, was harvested in May of this year, and it was hand-picked in small batches.  I like that!