CUP CHARACTERISTICS: Very smooth with light floral notes and haunting finish.
REGION(S): Nantou County
GROWING ALTITUDES: 2500 – 6000 feet above sea level
GRADE(S): Dong Ding
Dung Ti. No, the name does not have the same implications in Chinese as it does in English. This fabulous example of a Formosa Oolong is actually named after Mount Dung Ding, located in central Formosa, otherwise known these days as Taiwan. The fertile slopes of Mount Dung Ding are home to the world’s finest Oolong tea plantations. Tea production first began in Taiwan in the 1850’s when tea planters from the Chinese province of Fujian, home to some of the world’s finest and most complex teas, emigrated to the small island nation. They recognized that the mountain climate and high elevations were optimal for Oolong production.
The literal English translation of Oolong is Black Dragon. The name was given to the tea because it was thought that the intensely complex character of Oolong teas was similar to the spirit of the mythical creature. Interestingly Oolongs follow almost the same production as black tea. The major difference between the two is in its shorter fermentation period – Oolongs are often referred to as semi-fermented teas – Formosa Oolongs undergo a 60% shorter fermentation period. The result is a deeply complex tea that has characteristics of both black and green teas.
Many centuries ago, a noted Chinese philosopher noted that the leaves of Oolong teas, “should have creases like the leather boot of a Tatar horseman, curl like the dewlap of a mighty bullock, and unfold like a mist rising out of a ravine.” This Dung Ti Oolong certainly fits that bill. The tea is entirely hand made and has a stunning leaf. When infused, the tea is complex – smoother than black tea, less grassy than green teas, and displays a certain balance and harmony in the cup that is almost orchid like. Dung Ti, like all Oolongs should be drunk straight without milk or sugar in order to appreciate its subtle complexities. This is one tea you’ll never forget. Raise a cup and salute the black dragon!