Dong Ding Competition Three Flowers Jin Xuan Oolong (凍頂烏龍茶) is a top grade Dong Ding Oolong from the famous Lugu Township (鹿谷鄉) tea growing area of Nantou Province in Taiwan. Made from hand picked leaves of Jin Xuan ‘Golden Daylily’ (金萱) TRES #12 cultivar, this tea has been selected as the most typical representation of a Jin Xuan-based traditional Dong Ding Oolong. Being a traditional style of tea, it has undergone a lengthy and complex baking process to produce a tea that has a fine balance between fresh floral and baked creamy notes. This spring 2019 batch was awarded a ‘Three Flowers’ status at the 2019 Competition.
This tea utilises Jin Xuan, which is the cultivar of choice for many teas, including the very popular Milk Oolong. In contrast, our standard traditional Dong Ding Oolong uses a Qing Xin ‘Green Heart’ (青心) cultivar that results in a more floral taste. By utilising a Jin Xuan cultivar for this Dong Ding Competition Oolong, the farmer and the tea master are able to achieve a balanced flavour with a fine interplay between the creamy, lightly floral notes imparted by the Jin Xuan leaves and a complex, baked character.
We were lucky this year to acquire a small amount of this Dong Ding Competition Oolong with the help of a tea master in Taiwan who baked this particular tea. Every year in Taiwan, local competitions are held to determine the best teas of that season. This particular tea is from spring 2019 crops and was entered into a competition that took place earlier in 2019. The competition is held only once a year by the Lugu Dong Ding Tea Production Cooperatives (凍頂生產合作社). This is a ‘Three Flowers’ grade tea, which means that it was awarded a grade in the competition but it was not one of the very top teas. In total 1405 teas participated in the 2019 competition, with 1 tea being designated the Champion. Further split is Top Grade: 5 teas, First Grade: 50 teas, Second Grade: 98 teas, Third Grade: 141 teas, Three Flowers (Plum) Grade: 335 teas. This means that the tea is an entry-level, albeit still a competition grade, tea.
Taiwan tea competitions work somewhat differently to many others. When a farmer submits a tea for competition, 22 jin of tea is submitted for judging; one jin being equal to just over 600 grams. From that, 1 jin is used specifically for judging and 1 jin is used for sampling. Upon presenting the awards, the remaining 20 jin, or 12 kilograms of tea, of all the awarded teas are sealed with competition seals signifying the competition and the grade achieved. This labelling makes sure that there is no possible counterfeiting or reselling of inferior tea as ‘competition’ tea. The 12 kilograms of each graded tea is then auctioned off. The best grades of tea do resell for astronomical prices. In many cases the best graded teas are bought by very wealthy individuals or large corporates seeking free publicity from paying exorbitant sums of money for the top teas of the year.
This Dong Ding Competition Three Flowers Jin Xuan Oolong has dark leaves with a comforting roasted aroma. It produces a liquor with a golden copper colour and a creamy, baked and lightly floral aroma. The flavours are complex and multilayered with baked and creamy notes of straw and roasted buckwheat. The tasting starts tart, fruity and progresses onto more roasted, creamy and sweet flavours. The finish is refreshingly floral, lightly tangy and has a slight metallic edge. None of the flavours are particularly overpowering and the roasted notes contribute to rather than dominate the taste. Overall this is a complex, balanced tea that deliver highly satisfying and comforting baked creamy flavours with intriguing notes.
It is best brewed at 90°C for 3-4 minutes according to your taste and should be brewed multiple times, increasing steeping time with each brew if desired. For best results, we recommend good quality filtered water and gong fu brewing method.