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Besides Oriental Beauty, Dong Ding Oolong is one of the most famous Formosa (Taiwan) teas. There are two versions about the origin of the Dong Ding. One of the versions tells the story of Mr. Lim in the 19th century who returned after examinations in Fujian back to Taiwan and brought along 36 tea plants. He planted one part of these plants in his home region: the Dong Ding mountain. While according to the second version, the Dong Ding Oolong already originated in the 17th century. Family So started planting this tea as one of the first families in the village Luku. Whichever version might be right, Dong Ding Oolong is famous from its unique long lasting flowery taste and the sweet roasted aroma. In addition the tea plant itself, a vital role in extracting the typical Dong Ding characteristics is without a doubt the experience and technique of the tea master.
Based on the tradition of Dong Ding, the tea grows on a altitude of 700-1200 metre in the central mountain range of Nantau, Taiwan and the final product reaches a fermentation stage of about 25-30%. A good quality Dong Ding is not only defined by the altitude of the plantation, as the workmanship of the tea master is especially crucial. Rolling and roasting are very important stages to trigger the characteristical taste of Dong Ding. Hence, 100% concentration is needed during the processes, as the masters’ experience is required for fine tuning each stage in order to get the best characters out of the each tea leave. The tea master would adjust the method, time and temperature during the rolling and roasting process of each batch of tea.
After the withering process the tea leaves are wrapped in a cloth for the rolling process. Then this parcel is getting rolled and pressed, so the Dong Ding gets the typical half-ball shaped form. How hard the tea leaves will be pressed is decided by the tea master, as well as how long the rolling process will take place. The tea leaves keep fermenting while being still wrapped in the cloth. Another important factor are the resting times for the tea leaves during the different processes, because a certain balance of moisture in the leaves need be maintained. Once the resting time is over, the rolled leaves are thrown into the hot tumbler and a beautiful aroma fills the room. The fermentation is stopped through the heat of this kill green process. Then the tea will enter the next stage - Forming. During this stage the tea leaves will slowly and carefully formed into a much solid little balls. This is usually done by a professional team, who repeat the process of wrapping, rolling and separating, until the desire size, as well as tightness of the balls is to the satisfactory of the tea master.
Then for traditional Dong Ding, the real refinery starts - roasting. Roasting is decisive for the quality of Dong Ding, as it is where the important skill of the teamaster will be expressed. Dong Ding is traditionally roasted over well controlled fire using longan charcoal. The use of charcoal is an art, which already started with how the charcoal need to be ignited, how to control the temperature, the depth and quantity of the charcoal being used, and so on.
After the charcoal is ready, the pearl like tea will be filled into the bamboos basket. In this basket, there is a fine metal net, where the tea will be spread thinly on top. However, how and where will depends again on the experience and fine-feeling of the teamaster.
To achieve a balance between fire, bouquet-aroma, fruitiness, sweetness, smoothness, depth of taste is masterful.
Origin: Nantou (Taiwan)
Infusion colour: reddish brown
Preparation hints: water temperature ~ 100°C
Teaware suggestion: ceramic or clay
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