Monday, November 21, 2016

Tillerman Tea: Dong Ding Spring 2016, A Tea Review

Ben and I play a fun game, while he is at work either he or I will pick some random subject and I will send him a long winded ramble on the subject. Usually, it is science or history related since that is my specialty, but sometimes it is something totally random. Today it was all about Shocked Quartz, a very fascinating form of quartz where the rock is deformed from impact, usually from space rocks meeting the ground in a dramatic fashion, but also from nuclear blasts too. Just looking at the rock, it looks like any other quartz, but if you toss it under a microscope you see the difference, Planar Deformation Features, aka stripes (really easy definition, I am pretty sure I am making scientists cringe) which kinda look like the patterns in some of my teacups' glaze.

Geeking out of rocks aside, it is time for tea! Today I am looking at Tillerman Tea's Dong Ding Spring 2016, an unroasted Oolong grown from the Qing Xin cultivar, yes dear friends, this is an unroasted Dong Ding, something I rarely drink. Not sure why, but my brain draws a blank and always thinks Dong Ding is roasted, like it just magically comes from the tea bush perfectly roasted...which is a bit silly. I rarely have the stuff, so it is a pleasant escape from the norm, especially since the other teas I have had from Tillerman Tea I have really enjoyed. The first thing I noticed is that those are some big leaves, the second thing I noticed is wow, that is sweet! Strong notes of chestnut, sesame seeds, sweet oat cakes (ever had British flapjacks, because if so that is what this tea starts off smelling like) with an accompaniment of sugarcane, spicebush blossoms, and tulip tree flowers. Gently floral and nutty sweetness makes for a happy nose.

 Into my ever hungry for tea Xishi Yixing teapot the leaves go to steep and start their unfurling. Notes of sweet yeasty bread, freshly cooked oats, sesame halva, spicebush, lily blossoms, and a hint of very sweet tulip tree blossoms. The aroma of the wet leaves is almost intoxicating with its sweetness! The liquid has a starchy, yeasty sweetness of freshly baked farm bread drizzled with honey, sitting next to it on this imaginary table is a dish of sesame halva (a wonderful dessert made from sesame and honey) and a blooming bouquet of spicy Asiatic lilies. I feel as though the aroma is very transportive in its nature.

Whoa! That first steep is thick and buttery! I think I need a minute, too distracted by texture to focus on anything else. Ok, I have had my moment to be in thick tea bliss, the taste is quite simple while intense, now this sounds odd but bear with me. The notes present are halva, spicebush, lily flowers, and buttery yeasty bread. These notes are so distinct and strong that even if there are other lesser notes they are powerfully overshadowed by the intense primary notes. For the aftertaste the lily and gentle spicebush note lingers around for quite a while, and I feel like the mouthfeel sticks around for quite a while too!

The golden liquid is so thick that I think calling is both luscious and viscous is totally reasonable, it is so buttery and dense! The taste sends away some of the nuttier tones and brings in more floral, keeping the spicebush and lilies and adding distant orchid and tulip tree blossoms. There is a slight yeasty quality to the finish that dances with the lilies at the aftertaste. It is almost hard to pay attention to the taste because the mouthfeel is so outstanding.

This tea just goes and goes...and goes. Towards the end of steeping the leaves have expanded so much that I can't fit my lid on my teapot, they want to escape! The viscous mouthfeel also sticks around forever, when the taste has faded by steep 14 (I told you it sticks around) the mouthfeel is still buttery. I was very pleased with this tea, this little adventure out of my usual roasted Dong Ding safety net and into a greener pasture, the taste and longevity were great, but that mouthfeel was something else!

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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