Mr. Lin makes our spring and winter Tung Ting Frozen Summit oolongs, as well as one of our most special introductions, a fully oxidized black tea. Mary Lou was delighted when Mr. Lin asked her if she would like to taste some of his black tea when she visited with him in autumn of 2015. Tung Ting black tea had been something of an urban legend – did it really exist? There was no real way to know until going to the source and finding out for sure.
Since that visit, this is only the 6th time that we have had the pleasure of offering Tung Ting black tea to our tea enthusiast customers. The leaf is plucked between the spring and the summer plucks (when the leaf is large and juicy) and the finished tea is semiball-rolled in the same fashion as Tung Ting oolong.
On first appearance this black tea resembles what might be mistaken for a rich, roasted Tung Ting oolong. But, this tea has been oxidized to approximately an 85% level, and has not been roasted. Granted, it is not as dark in color as our other Taiwan black tea, our Alishan black, but the amount of oxidation it has received, plus undergoing the other steps of black tea manufacture, nudge it properly into the black tea category. Because of the semiball-rolled configuration of the leaf, this tea cannot take on the darker, black tea color that more open, individual leaves can.
Make sure to look into your teapot at the wet leaf after it has steeped 2 or more times – the wet leaf is HUGE, and one marvels at the ability of our tea producer to coax all of that mass of leaf into such small pellets of finished tea. Especially black tea!!
While the color of both the dry and wet leaf is a rich, cocoa brown (not black) the flavor has overtones of brown sugar, light molasses and sweet chocolate. This is a superb tea, soft and rich in the mouth with just a hint of dryness that gives the liquor pull and astringency. In the dryness and the aftertaste is the subtle presence of Tung Ting floral notes that are so dominant in the oolong versions – here, the floral quality is recessive but present.
This is a black tea to drink plain, in the manner of East Asia – no milk or sugar, or other add-ins, please. It is perfect the way it is. The color of the liquor is magical in a glass pitcher and when served in a small white tea cup.
A statue in the center of Lugu town celebrates the efforts of tea workers past and present. It is good to see a new generation of tea farmers continue to ply their craft in both the traditional ways, and also in new directions.
Black teas were unknown in the Tung Ting area just a few years ago. But the deliciousness of this black tea will keep our tea producer busy with this seasonal production for many years to come. We ourselves drink this tea often as it has a style unlike any other black tea made from oolong leaf – yet it retains a floral, buttery heart that recalls its roots – Tung Ting oolong.
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