This season's Dong Ding has arrived for close to one month, and it's very interesting to see how the tea has changed.
When I write tasting notes, I usually taste by using gaiwans to brew the tea (I assume most people drink my Taiwan oolongs this way, too). Today is my second time using the bowl method to compare these three new Dong Dings (from left to right: Dong Ding Special Roast, Dong Ding Traditional, and Dong Ding Green).
The first time I did the bowl method with my tea friends, Jason and Alice. We were all very surprised by the differences when a tea is brewed in a bowl versus a gaiwan. With a gaiwan, the Dong Ding Green is light and floral. If you brew it too long, the astringency can show up. The Dong Ding traditional is not as roasted as the previous season's. The liquid is smooth, fruity and grainy. Sometimes it reminds me of soy milk. The Dong Ding Special Roast is robust, roasted, and fruity. I find that this tea can be finicky to brew, but if done right, you will have an excellent cup of tea.
With the bowl method, the most surprising result is from the Dong Ding traditional. It didn't taste as roasted as we expected. After two rounds of hot water, I found the Dong Ding Green to be the lightest one. Dong Ding Traditional is the smoothest one, and Dong Ding Special Roast carries the fullest body.
After at least 20 minutes of soaking the tea today, I tasted the three Dong Dings again. I feel the true characters of these teas are showing up and they might stay like this for the next several months and more (I often notice when a new tea arrives, it takes about two weeks to settle down). Dong Ding Green is very pleasant now. It's bright and floral, and even after 20 minutes of soaking, it's not as bitter as when I first tasted it. Dong Ding Traditional is still fruity and grainy. I think it's the most balanced tea out of these three. Dong Ding Special Roast is bold with a ripe fruit and honey taste to it. I think that this tea might be especially good with age.
Try tasting your teas with different brewing styles and see what you notice!