Thursday, August 29, 2013
Spring 2013 Dong Ding Competition Oolong
Origin: Lugu, Dong Ding (central Taiwan)
Elevation: 700 meters
Harvested by hand on April 17th, 2013
Process: Hung Shui Oolong (charcoal roasted)
This tea is what remains of a batch that was submitted to the Lugu towniship farmer's association (=Dong Ding Oolong tea) competition of this spring 2013. This is the biggest and most renowned Oolong competition in Taiwan: around 5000 lots compete for the top prizes in spring and winter. Thanks to the success of this event, similar tea competitions have been created all around the island to help promote local teas. An important factor to consider is the number of participants. A high number creates more competition for quality.
This competition dates back to the early 1980s. At first, the farmers were suspicious of this government interference with their trade. Who were these judges to think they could rank their teas? So, in one of the first competitions, the farmers submitted twice the same batch of tea to the competition, under 2 different names. They wanted to test the judges and see if the same tea would receive different grades. Instead, the judges were able to taste the similarity between the 2 lots and told the farmers that the same tea had be submitted twice! This proved the seriousness and professionalism of the judges. These are employed by the Tea Research and Extension Station (TRES), Taiwan's tea research institute.
Now that the TRES had gained the trust of the Dong Ding farmers, it would wield influence over the taste of competition Dong Ding Oolong. The director of the TRES had learned his tea skills in Wu Yi (Fujian) and that's why his judges favored roasted Oolongs that were similar to Wu Yi Oolongs. And to this day, the characteristic of this competition Dong Ding Oolong is its strong Yancha-like roasting.This is why we find a distinctive Wu Yi suan (acidity) in this Dong Ding Oolong.