We’ve been enjoying milder weather here in central MA this first week in December, with temps reaching a balmy 50 degrees on some days. But yesterday a sharp, cold wind blew in from up north and swept all of the mild away. We may even get some snow flurries tonight. I’ve been cozying up to a blazing fire in the fireplace with a steaming cuppa.
This morning I’m sipping a Milky Oolong from Taiwan. Grown in the Dong Ding (Tung Ting) mountain area in Nantou county, the tea is harvested from March through December. Dong Ding mountain, perpetually shrouded in mist and fog, has an elevation of over 2400 feet and means “frozen summit” or “ice peak”. It’s one of the best known tea producing areas on the island.
First, the leaves are plucked from a special varietal of tea plant with large leaves. Then they are withered and allowed to oxidize in carefully controlled air conditioned rooms. Oolong teas are not as oxidized (fermented) as black teas so after a shorter time, they are steamed with high heat to stop that oxidation process. This Oolong is more on the greener side so its oxidation time is less than other darker Oolongs. The leaves have been tossed during processing so they are all curled up.
I enjoyed watching the leaves unfurl during the 3 minute steep in 180 degree F water.
Milky Oolong has such a unique taste that many stories have evolved to explain its unusual flavor. My favorite story is that the tea’s flavor came about as the result of a sudden shift in temperature during harvest that is an extremely rare occurrence. The first time this shift occurred was centuries ago when the moon fell in love with a comet passing through the night sky. The comet, passed by, burned out and vanished. The moon, in her great sorrow, caused a great wind to blow through the hills and valleys bringing about a quick drop in temperature. The next morning, local tea pluckers went out to collect their fresh leaves. To their surprise, when the tea was processed it had developed an amazing milky character, which was attributed to the motherly character of the old moon. I love that story and it reminds me of what we’ve been experiencing here recently with the change in the weather.
The aroma of this tea is floral with a rich hint of cream. Its flavor, also quite floral, reminds me very much of a Spring Dragon or Jade Oolong. It conjures up images of a blooming spring garden, ripe with its heady fragrance. There is also a buttery creaminess to the taste as well which gives a soft, silky feeling in my mouth.
This truly is a very special tea.
This weekend is a good one for knitting and crocheting holiday gifts by the fire, a hot cup of tea by my side.