Tung Ting - Twelve Trees Oolong
Few Taiwanese teas command the same degree of respect around the world as Tung Ting (Twelve Trees) oolongs.
Over its century-long history, Dongding Oolong has developed into one
of Taiwan's two signature teas. These two teas are locally known as Jie
Mei Cha (Sister Teas). The second sister is Wenshan Baochong
from northern Taiwan. Tung Ting Mountain is located in the center of
the largest tea producing region in Taiwan, Nantou County. Responsible
for over 40 percent of the island's tea production, Nantou's mountainous
terrain and temperate climate is perfectly suited for oolongs.
According to local folklore, the origin of Dongding oolong began
around 1855. A villager named Lin Fong Tse went to the renowned Wu Yi
Mountains in Fujian Province, China, and came back with 36 tea trees of
the ching-shing varietal. He gave 12 of these trees as a gift to a tea
farmer friend, Lin San Yen, who had helped finance his trip. These 12
trees were subsequently planted along the mountain roads surrounding the
beautiful Chi-Ling Lake near the town of Luku and it is said all modern
day Dongdings are decedents of these 12 trees.
In honor of Lin Fong Tse and Lin San Yen, we have named our tea
Twelve Trees Oolong. Our farmer Mr Wu has also chosen to put a unique
twist by using the San Lin Xi leaf varietal which is normally used to
make the other famous tea; the High Mountain Oolong. The slightly higher
elevation means the leaves are slightly thicker, more leathery when
wet. It also has a higher moisture content. The tea is completely
handcrafted., from picking the one bud and two leaves to the kneading
and firing process. After the initial oxidization and firing, the farmer
spends an average of four days shaping and finishing the leaves. The
process includes tsai-rou (repeat rolling/kneading), tsai-pei (repeat
firing), and ding-shing (shaping). Dongding normally has an oxidation
level of about 30% (but I have requested a slightly higher level), which
is categorized as a light, medium-oxidized tea.
As you enjoy Twelve Trees, take note of the following:
The dry leaves: A rich dark green, locally described as wa-ching (toad green). Refreshing brown sugary scent.
The steeped leaves: An intense nutty and caramel aroma.
The liquor: Bright golden yellow, with crisp, complex full-bodied flavors -- again nutty and sweet.
The finish: Smooth, no astringency with lingering chestnut notes.
The empty cup, after enjoying the tea: The most amazing sweetness you've ever smelled from an empty cup! molasses syrup? sugar cane?
This tea is best enjoyed with the Gong Fu method of preparation.