Competition Grade Dong Ding : Jin Xuan Oolong Tea [3 Flower Grade]
Let's talk about Competition Grade Dong Ding...
We are excited to bring you a 3 Plum Blossom Grade Dong Ding
[a grading issued by the prestigious Lugu Township Tea Society].
Simply put - about competition grade tea...
Dong Ding is an oolong more oxidised in the ‘traditional fashion’ ; the key feature is that it is baked or roasted. This technique came from China and was adapted, honed and refined as the Dong Ding style teas became more appreciated. The guiding light of Dong Ding style are the competitions held every year in LUGU town - this is the place that many of the tea makers have settled - there are no tea gardens just shops and factories. The leaf is brought in - we are told often from as far afield as AliShan. In this town there is an entity that controls what ‘Dong Ding ’ style is. Tea can only be submitted by people that live in LUGU who are often buying in and finishing the tea. Qing Xin : 青心 is the preferred cultivar for the competition tea : TTES 12 Jin Xuan 金萱 is also used and there is a separate competition for these non Qing Xin : 青心 teas.
This tea is from the competition reserved for Dong Ding teas made from cultivars other than the classic wulong (Qing Xin) cultivar. Most entries in this competition are made from Jin Xuan. This particular tea is made from a specially selected high mountain Jin Xuan tea that over 6 months was mellowed, baked & sorted especially for this competition. What do we mean by ‘baking?’ Well these teas are now baked in modern tea ovens - charcoal baking, which was, long ago, the only method, is gradually disappearing - due to the environment, health etc. In our usual range we sell both the oven baked Dong Ding and a charcoal baked Dong Ding using sustainable wood endemic to the island.
In more depth..
Leaf origin : Alishan Note on leaf origin in the case of competition teas : Our partners have been very kind to provide context to leaf origin for competition teas : in short they share how competitions are designed to highlight the skill of the tea finishers. Many entering the competition do not state the source of the material. In this case this special batch is from leaf purchased in Alishan specially for the purpose of mellowing and baking for the competition. As with all competitions part of the magic is in the mystery so we will leave it there.....
Baked by : Yu Wen : Triple step Dong Ding standard baking. Mid to high baking, designed to meet the standard set by the Dong Ding Competition Judges
Appearance : Taiwanese balled oolong standard, competition sorted
This tea is the product of the highly networked tea system in Taiwan : in this case the tea is grown and initially processed by one family before being finished by another. To learn more about our partnerships in Taiwan and who we work with to bring you these great teas please do head over to our blog > what you read here is just part of our commitment to greater transparency in tea.
How to prepare tea [Gong Fu Style]
Amount of tea per cup (200 ml): 5g (1/3 of a pot)
Temperature of water: 90℃
Infusion time: 45 seconds and then 20 seconds as desired
Number of infusions: 5+
How to enjoy: No milk, no sugar
How to prepare tea [Western Style]
Amount of tea per cup (200 ml): 5g (one tea caddy spoon)
Temperature of water: 90℃ / 195℉ (boil kettle, cool for 20 seconds)
Infusion time: 2 minutes (or as desired). Add 1 minute for each further infusion.
Number of infusions: 3 to 4
How to enjoy: No milk, no sugar
Tales of the Tea Trade : Dong Ding
The result is caramelised sweetness with a depth and complexity that literally makes your mouth water—it’s a phenomenon the Chinese call “Hui Gan.”
Rob : Extract from our our book Tales of the tea trade :
Rob "Yuwen and her family, who live in Mingjian, western Nantou County. This area has the highest concentration of tea producers in Taiwan. Despite this, one third of the crops grown are not tea; pineapple, dragon fruit, ginger, bananas and a large variety of local vegetables create a diversity made possible by the small plot system. This is not only necessary for the survival of many farmers, but is also helpful in pest control, as natural barriers are created to stop the spread of disease"
Yuwen: ‘I first started in tea when I went to my father’s tea factory in China at the age of 21 or 22. When I arrived I knew very little about tea, but he needed extra tea bakers, so I was put in charge of baking. I worked there for four years, living and working at the factory. As the boss’s daughter I could not admit that I didn’t know anything – I just had to learn from the workers, what they asked and their comments. My father encouraged me, telling me that making tea is a job that you enjoy, sitting down with your customers and serving them [....] The hardest part of producing tea is that once you are baking, there can be no break until it is finished. This is why I bake in the evening, so there can be no interruption from my two boys!