This is a medium oxidized oolong, darker than a lightly-oxidized one, with dark-green leaves curled into fairly tiny balls – not tight “pearls” but quite curled. Because they’re tightly curled, you will want to use an infuser large enough to give them room to expand. I didn’t get much of an aroma from the dried leaves – just a very faint grassy smell, almost not there.
For oolong teas, I use 190 degree F water, and steep for about 2 minutes. As soon as it started brewing, this tea evinced a floral aroma. Although the company describes it as “orchid” I find the floral note reminds me more of jasmine.
Although there’s a nice floral aroma, the taste isn’t floral – not that that’s a bad thing; the taste is quite nice and smooth – more body than the lighter oolongs, not at all brisk or bitter but still a stronger tea taste than green oolongs. The smoothness of it reminds me of of some brandies or liqueurs – not in flavor, but in texture. I’ve tried several teas from Naivetea, and so far all of them have leaned toward floral notes, very impressive consistency in presenting tea from among several styles – it seems to be something they aim for.
The tea also tastes good on a second steeping – the floral aroma is still there, and the taste is still as smooth. Steeping the tea for about four minutes on the second steeping produces the same pale yellowish-green color as the first; although this is more oxidized than some of their other oolongs, it doesn’t brew up any darker, not nearly as dark as, say, a Ti Kuan Yin oolong.
The tea doesn’t need any sweetener, although you could add some. Eating sweet foods with the tea seems to make the tea taste sweeter. The flavor of the tea complements sugar cookies, shortbread, butter cookies, and jam-filled cookies quite nicely. (Gingerbread cookies were somewhat stronger than the tea, though.)
Naivetea describes this tea as:
Layered flavor, notes of orchid, lingering refined sweetness.
Mouth Feel: Soft with medium and smooth body
Aroma: Floral with hints of orchid
Ingredients: Ching Shin Oolong
Oxidation/Fermentation: Medium, 30%
Origin: Dong Ding, Central Taiwan
Elevation: 700 meters/2,296 feet.
Incidentally, the company’s spelling of it as Dong Ding is not the only way to spell it – other producers will call similar teas Tung Ting, and if you wanted to do a comparison by tasting several different ones, you’d need to search under both spellings.
Although I generally prefer darker oolongs to lighter ones, the teas I’ve tried from Naivetea have impressed me so much with their attractive floral notes that I am looking forward to trying more of them, as soon as I can decide on which ones to try next!