It seems that so far it is Taiwan week, though I can say that was not intentional, but maybe I will run with it. Today we are taking another look at new company Tea Ave (using their awesome aroma tea cup set again, woo!) and their Dong Ding Oolong. So here is the deal, I am just going to come clean, though I am sure a lot of you already know this, Dong Ding Oolong (especially roasted) is hands down my favorite Oolong, possibly my favorite tea. This presents some problems when it comes to reviewing it, because I tend to be extra critical but also easily blown away by it, so let us see how this one measures up. The aroma of the tightly curled leaves is, as expected, delightfully pleasant, with notes of sweet honey and toasted sesame seeds, there are also notes of spicebush, chestnut, and a gentle orchid note. This is a lightly roasted oolong so it still has the floral notes along with the sweetness that roasting brings out, Tea Ave's website (and awesome packaging) gives the roasting level a 4 (out of 10 I am assuming) and I certainly agree with that.
No surprise, this tea got tossed in my yixing pot for the official steeping, sadly it did not all fit in the aroma cup, so I had to break out the cha hai for the extra. The brewed leaves is a really nice blend of sweet roasted chestnut and sesame and a really surprising potent blend of honeysuckle, lilac, and spicebush. That spicebush note is what makes Dong Ding my favorite I thing, so many happy memories of spicebush flowers. The liquid is not as strongly roasted as the brewed leaves, in fact it has a bit of a vegetation greenness to it, along with spicebush and a touch of chestnut at the finish.
The first tea really starts out floral and sweet, notes of honeysuckle and lilac, a tiny hint of spinach...and then hello roasted! The midtaste and finish is all about the roasted sesame and chestnuts with a sweet honey taste all throughout. The sweetness lingers for a while after sipping experience is finished.
Second steeping time! The aroma is much toastier this time, it is still sweet and floral, but the toasted notes are really starting to shine through with richly toasted sesame notes and of course the spicebush. The taste is also much toastier, starting off with sweet sesame seeds and a bit of toast and delectable honeysuckle nectar. Towards the midtaste the tea picks up a spicebush note and, here is the fun part, there is a finish of sunflower seeds. That is a new one to me, I like!
Third times the charm, I really need to stop saying that because it makes it seem the previous steeps were meh and I need the third steep to make them better...which I don't, I just never know how to say 'hey third steep' I guess I could just do that. So the third steep takes off where the second steep's aroma left off, mostly all roasted notes of chestnut and sesame seeds, a hint of toast, and that lingering bit of spicebush. The taste is really similar to the second steep, with lots of toasty notes, including notes of actual toast, sesame seeds, and chestnut. The finish is mild honey and spicebush, delicious. Yes, I liked this tea, it passed the delicious taste with flying colors.