2018 Dung Ding Competition

Dung Ding Competition - dry leaves

On Monday of this week I ordered some goodies over at House of Tea, and this particular batch of leafy deliciousness was included in the form of a 3 gram free sample.

This tea was produced for participation in what is described in House of Tea’s notes as 2018’s biggest competition for Taiwanese Oolongs, the Dung Ding Tea Competition. It went on to be awarded third grade, a level that only 16% of the over 6000 teas entered into the competition achieved.

The raw material was grown at Lugu Township, Nantou County, Taiwan, and is of the Chin Shin varietal.

The leaves grew at an altitude of over 1000 meters, and were hand-plucked in May of 2018.

The leaves were lightly oxidised to 20%, and the roast is described as medium.

As I tend to do with smaller samples these days I played things straight by the included brewing suggestions…

Steeping method
Weight of dry leaf: 3 grams
Infusion style: Western
Steeping vessel: 200 ml ceramic teapot
Water temperature: 100°C
No. & duration: a 1st. infusion @ 3 minutes, then @ 3 minutes and finally 4 minutes for a total of 3 infusions

The first infusion, nice as it was, gave the impression that this round was just a taste of things to come, that the leaves were just busying themselves with the task of opening up and preparing for the rest of the session, laying a foundation, as it were.

This is something I find with a lot of ball Oolongs, that no matter how much you bias the early infusions in order to encourage them to open up they tend to want to get on with things in their own good time.

Dung Ding Competition - gong dao bei

Despite that, the first infusion was very clean tasting. There was a silky smooth body, and the roast was evident but subtle at the same time. The sweetness was reminiscent of Medjool dates, darkly fruity with a hint of background spiciness.

The second steeping saw the accelerator pressed on all fronts. The colour had deepened, the body was now full fat milk bordering cream, and the taste was everything the first round had given just so much more of it. A peek into the tea strainer revealed nothing more than a few near microscopic dots of debris.

Dung Ding Competition - a cup of

I was a bit nervous that the third infusion would pull back a curtain to reveal a previously unseen, lurking bitterness, but that was not the case. There was, somewhat expectedly, a slight degree of tail-off across the board, but not to such an extent that you regretted doing and subsequently drinking this round.

If anything I came to the conclusion that even such a small amount as 3 grams of these leaves might be good for a fourth and maybe even a fifth steeping when brewed this style. That also got me thinking that this tea would probably be a star turn when given some gong-fu love in a gaiwan. I’ll more than likely order a full sized cargo, and check that theory out.

Dung Ding Competition - used leaves

One final thought struck me – if this tea is as nice as it is, just exactly how good must the ones that finished in the two grades higher than it be?!

Clearly this requires further research. Watch this space, etc…

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