Moc Chau Dragon Breath Oolong is a heavily roasted oolong that is grown in the north of Vietnam in Mộc Châu district of Sơn La Province. It is grown at a high altitude of around 1,100m on a small tea estate that specialises in growing Taiwanese tea cultivars. This oolong undergoes heavy roasting, resulting in a complex cup that is full of roasted flavour with lightly sweet, fruity and tangy notes. This batch was harvested and roasted in April 2019.
This Dragon Breath Oolong is hand processed from estate grown tea trees. The cultivar used to produce this tea is called Thanh Tam locally. It is also commonly known as Qing Xin ‘Green Heart’ (青心) cultivar, originally brought over from Taiwan. Both Vietnam and Thailand have successful plantations utilising some well-known Taiwanese tea plant cultivars, often with the aim of imitating Taiwanese oolong tea. Most of these are exported to Taiwan or Japan. However some gardens produce some very fine teas that have a unique character of their own.
The Qing Xin cultivar is particularly known for the floral aspects of teas that are made from it. When undergoing heavy roasting, the floral character becomes secondary but provide a fine balance and complexity of flavours. Dragon Breath Oolong follows the same process as our popular Red Buffalo Oolong, however the leaves undergo only light rolling, resulting in a twisted bar shape similar to our Taiwanese Shui Xian Water Sprite Oolong. After the final rolling the tea undergoes a heavy roasting or baking process over 7 to 10 day period to achieve the desired flavour. The final roast level achieved is on the heavy side, 6-7 / 10. We think that this tea does benefit from a short 6-12 month rest after processing to balance out the roasted flavours.
We also feature three other Qing Xin oolongs from the same producer in Moch Chau in our shop, which all differ in their processing. It is always a good idea to taste these side by side if possible to gain a better understanding of the way tea processing can completely change the flavour of the original leaf. Our Vietnamese oolong teas from the same producer, made from the same cultivar currently are:
- Moc Chau Green Heart – minimal oxidation and minimal roasting (rolled leaf);
- Moc Chau Three Moons – medium oxidation and medium lengthy roasting (rolled leaf);
- Moc Chau Red Buffalo – heavier oxidation and medium roasting (rolled leaf);
- Moc Chau Dragon Breath – heaviest oxidation and very heavy roasting (twisted strip leaf).
The dark leaves of this Moc Chau Dragon Breath Oolong have a twisted strip shape and are very dark in appearance with a light roasted aroma. The liquor produced has golden colour with a warm comforting roasted fragrance. The flavours are complex, with a pronounced warming, roasted profile and no astringency. At the same time these flavours are light, brisk and very smooth. The dominant roasted notes are finely balanced by fruity, sweet and tangy notes of roasted plums. The aftertaste has a tangy edge with a lightly metallic finish. The caramel and honey notes present in the tea are most evident after about 2 steepings.
We suggest brewing at 90°C for 3-4 minutes according to your taste. Moc Chau Dragon Breath Oolong can be brewed 3+ times depending on your brewing method and taste preferences. The flavour tends to alter with each brew so make sure to brew the leaves multiple times to get the most out of it!