In Taiwan the traditional processing of oolong tea utilizing expertly managed oxidation combined with a lengthy medium to high roast is disappearing and now comprises only a small portion of the overall annual production. Producing old style oolong like the Hung Shui (aka Red Water) that made Dong Ding tea famous is laborious work. The skill, effort and time involved for handcrafted small batches is a labor of love that often goes under appreciated in a market that currently is riding on the trend of nuclear green oolong tea. It is a sign of the times, the depth of perception of tea drinkers have changed accounting toward preferences that have impacted how teas are produced and appreciated today.
i) The tea consists of bud and secondary leaves structure that are handpicked. ii) The brew is thick and sticky. I was surprised by how firmly the cup would stick to the bottom upon being allowed to dry on the spilled puddle of tea.
The 2008 Hung Shui is a handmade production that was processed under a lengthy medium charcoal roast. The tea has been vacuum sealed and kept in storage for almost 10 years. Hung Shui is a category of tea that is not flashy but substantial. The tea is well balance with steady and unwavering notes that are low and heavy. The brew is thick being mildly sweet and warming to the body. There are notes of roasted chestnuts, fruitiness and cook rice. This tea can be brewed all day yielding 15+ infusions. Having put aside some for future enjoyment, I am awaiting more definitive age developments. The roast elements that bind the characteristics of the tea have yet to fully recede and the true beauty of the leaf has yet to fully emerge.
Dong Ding Oolong Tea, A Classic Flavor that is Hard to Forget by Yingyin Luo, The Art of Tea No.4