It wasn’t long ago that I’d never heard of oolong tea. The word didn’t even exist in my internal dictionary, which is pretty hard to admit for someone who writes for a living and for fun, and has earned the nickname ‘word monkey’ by doing so.
Now though, oolong is very much part of daily life and, since first trying it just a month or so ago, I’ve become a huge fan of this particular variety of tea. The flavour and colour of oolong can vary greatly depending on the level of oxidisation that occurs during the processing. For me though it tends to be the greener leaves which create the lighter flavoured oolongs that I really enjoy, and after working my way through a number of incredible different oolongs from Adagio Teas, which you can read about here, I was determined to find some more to to try.
I managed to find a bit of time on the weekend between relaxing and last minute Easter egg shopping (don’t judge me, we all do it) to nip in to my local tea shop to see what they had on offer. The shop is called Bolland’s of Chester and is found on The Rows overlooking the high street. It’s only a little shop but it’s packed full of amazing teas (and a number of different coffees too, I might add) that are all measured and labelled by hand. I always try to pop in to Bolland’s whenever I’m in Chester just to see what is on offer, so much so that I’m sure the staff are probably sick of me by now!
This time, after much deliberation, I left with a packet of Dung Ting oolong and a smile on my face. Having not come across this particular oolong before I was very much looking forward to giving it a try and doing a bit of research into the background of it. After a bit of unsuccessful Googling, I was starting to wonder if I’d got the name of this tea wrong. There was very few results and not even a Wikipedia page! Then I started to think, I’ve often seen teas with Chinese or Taiwanese names that go by a whole host of similar sounding titles. For example, the Iron Goddess of Mercy oolong that I wrote about a while back (amazing tea by the way, definitely get it on your ‘to brew’ list) also goes by the name of Ti Kuan Yin, Tieguanyin, Iron Guanyin and also Tiet Kwun Yum. It seems like the possible monikers for this particular tea are almost never ending. In fact, if this oolong was a person, it would clearly be this guy:
Anyway, getting back to the matter in hand. I started to think, could this mystery Dung Ting in my hand actually be Dong Ding, an oolong that I’d heard nothing but great things about? Through the help of a Polish tea website, eherbata.pl/ (who I’m very grateful to) and Google’s translate function I found that yes, these teas were one and the same!
Nicole, the writer behind www.teaformeplease.com/ and all-round tea expert first made me aware of Dong Ding a while ago and since then I’ve been desperate to give it a try. It’s grown in the Nantou region of Taiwan on high and misty mountain slopes that are often regarded as producing some of the finest oolongs. Dong ding translates to ‘Icy Summit’ so you can get a real sense of the landscape the tea grows in to earn a name like that.
On to the much anticipated tasting then. I boiled the kettle, let it cool for a short while and then steeped the tea for about four minutes. It produced a golden yellow liquid accompanied by a deep floral/ vegetal scent and it looked great in my glass teacup. The tea tasted incredible. It’s flavour was such a complex combination of delicate, floral sweetness with a slightly astringent finish that stays with you for a good while after. It’s hard to describe how something can taste fresh or clean, but this tea has it and somehow combines it with an amazing depth of flavour too.
I’m so glad I accidentally bought this legendary tea, I just wish I could find the words to better describe the wonderful flavour to you all. I suppose you’ll just have to go and get some and see for yourself!
Have you tried Dong Ding before? How does this rank in the oolong charts? Please leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you.