Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sanne Tea: Dong Ding Oolong, A Tea Review

Another busy week with a busy start! Yesterday was mostly eaten up by visiting the doctor (and no, I do not want to talk about it, let's just say I am not happy about that visit) and gaming, Ben took me out for a post-doctor, pre-game Korean meal where I promptly OD'd on Kimchi and Okusucha. My Oppressor made his debut and I barely won my game, it was crazy close and awesome fun. My Oppressor and Minder Swarm and my opponent's Desolator were so well loved that we get to be the photo for next week's league announcement, I am so proud. Today is Ben's birthday and we will be celebrating it using the powers of Indian food.

Today we are taking another look at Sanne Tea with their Dong Ding Oolong, this specific Dong Ding is from the winter of 2013 and grown by a farmer whose Dong Ding Oolong has won several awards. This Dong Ding is only lightly roasted, meaning it lacks the really intense roasted tones I find myself going nutty for, but retains that delicate floral notes that give the tea a heady lightness. The unroasted and very lightly roasted version of Dong Ding is something else, if you ever get the chance I suggest doing a side by side comparison of different levels of roast with a Dong Ding, it is quite the adventure! The aroma of this particular Dong Ding is right in the middle of being floral and roasted, with notes of popcorn, spicebush, hyacinth, honeysuckle, toasted sesame, and a distant note of orchid. I really enjoyed how the roasted notes and floral notes played off each other rather than clashing, so mad props to the roaster for knowing exactly when to stop, something I am still learning with my little personal roaster.

I was torn rather or not to brew this tea in my roasted Oolong yixing or in a gaiwan, I decided on going with my yixing, theorizing that a little bit of a floral note being imparted into the clay would not ruin my seasoning. So, after steeping the leaves, the aroma is strong with notes of spicebush, hyacinth, and lilac, it is very heady with only a touch of toasted sesame at the end. The liquid is sweet and floral, with notes of spicebush and lilac, with a distinct sweet finish of honey that lingers in my nose for a while.

This is a smooth and silky tea, the mouthfeel is just delightful, it coats the mouth with its smoothness. The taste is primarily in the camp of a green, floral, oolong, with notes of fresh vegetation and flowers. It is very sweet and heady, starting off with lilac and hyacinth and moving on to honey and broken leaves at the midtaste. The end has a hint of toasted sesame and spicebush, tying in the roasted tones and giving the tea a level of richness.

And onward to the second steep the leaves go! This time the aroma gets a little bit more of the toasted quality, with spicebush and toasted sesame being more dominant and the heady floral notes of lilac being secondary. The taste is even more floral than the first, it is super heady and sweet, like drinking the nectar of lilacs and hyacinths. Yes, I do in fact have hummingbird envy, and yes I have tried to drink numerous flower's nectar, it is hard! The finish is a tiny bit of toasted sesame, which I think is pretty fun. As much as I love roasted Dong Ding (and totally picked the wrong pot, oops) this only lightly roasted Dong Ding was delicious.

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