03 February, 2009

1980s Dongding

Another cold snap, some snowfall, and suddenly England has come to halt. The slightest deviation from mildness in either hot or cold direction typically results in extreme effects on society. With the snow, all manner of halted trains, closed schools, and so on. You wouldn't believe our ancestors were Angles and Jutes.


Snowy University Square


With the cold weather, some aptly-named Dongding [frozen summit]. This type of tea just happens to be the first "real" Chinese tea that I ever had.


1980s Dongding


Visiting China on a conference some years ago, Lei and I sat at a tea-merchant's table, trying a Dongding. It was unlike anything else I'd ever tried, being raised on Darjeelings, Assam, Nilgiri, and Ceylon, like most other English. I'd had Twinings "Oolong" and "Gunpowder" before, but those flavourless green husks bore little resemblance to the delights that the tea vendor served up. Dongding was my first step, and I clearly remember the fragrance and flavour of that tea session, many years later, as if it were just last week.


1980s Dongding


This particular Dongding was picked over 20 years prior to that first encounter with Dongding, and is more traditional, being more significant in roast. It was bought in Taiwan, but I know not where nor at what price.

Aged wulong is a pleasant thing, and feels entirely neutral on the stomach. My diet in tea usually consists of two parts hongcha (which is quite warm on the stomach) to one part shengpu (old and new, being warm and cold, respectively) to one part shupu (very warm on the stomach).

This old fellow was dominated by its roast, and it must have been through a lot of them. It held nicely in the throat, with a solid, sweet presence that Lei and I both enjoyed.


1980s Dongding


It needed a lot of leaves, and long infusions, to get solid character and chaqi out of the leaves, and we were soon brewing for many minutes. What chaqi exists was soothing, friendly, quite charming, and not one to over-analyse.

That old Dongding butteriness took me back to that first encounter in China once more, and all was well in the world.

That strikes me as a good tea session.

7 comments:

Green tea said...

Sounds good. I've neer encountered aged dingsong before, I'll have to keep an eye out for it.

Bill said...

Hey Hobbes,
I wouldn't compain too much about UK weather. Here in my area in Minnesota we have had 62 consecutive days of below freezing weather!

HEEHE

Hobbes said...

Dear Bill,

I suspect you may have missed my point :)

The snow here really is nothing in comparison to truly extreme weather conditions, yet English life grinds to a halt. Our Scandinavian and Germanic ancestors would be embarrassed.

A Canadian friend was chuckling at recent newspaper headlines that read "Nation GRIPPED by snow!", which he considered to be just a light dusting in comparison with that from his home.


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

Bill said...

Haha Indeed I did.. Yeah, I love experiencing four seasons. However, below freezing weather blows!

Hobbes said...

The Dutch, I am told, have a word meaning "that cosy feeling when it's cold outside and you're warm inside". (i) Dutch is a great language; (ii) it's this feeling that maks me love freezing weather. :)


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

tieguanyin said...

Hello Hobbes,

Having spent part of my life in neighboring Belgium, I know what you are referring to. Certainly a nice roasted oolong makes for a good warm feeling during inclement weather!

Have a good rest of the Sunday!

Alex

Hobbes said...

Thanks, Alex - you too!

P.s. I fit in well, in Belgium. Red hair and a love of Belgian food. :)