The Roasting of Mr. Chang's Dong Ding
There is a tradition of cooking of some wulongs, giving them a woody, sweeter and even caramelized character while reducing the "greenness" of the tea and the pronounced fragrance of fresh flowers. The liquor becomes a darker amber colour, easy to drink and some say easier to digest. This procedure takes anything from 2 to 60 hours depending on the desired result, and is achieved using a specialised electric furnace at temperatures between 75 and 160 °C. These appliances work the same way as your oven at home but are adapted for cooking tea leaves; more precise and equipped with a convection system to ensure a uniform cook.
Each year we cook some of our wulong. This season, we chose to cook some Dong Ding from Mr. Chang in our oven, following the specific recommendations of Mr. Nen Yu, a Taiwanese producer friend of ours. Cooking can be the signature of the producer or tea merchant (see "The competition wulongs" and "Dong Ding (Cooked): traditional regional flavour.").
The recipe we used for the Dong Ding cook takes two days:
First day, 90 °C for 3 hours, then 95 °C - 2 hours, 100 °C - 2 hours.
Second day: 100 °C – 3 hours, 105 °C - 2 hours, 110 °C - 2 hours and 115 °C - 2 hours.
(The resulting tea was so popular that it sold out in a couple of weeks)
Traditionally, the cooking was done on charcoal which is still used by some producers. The result is quite different and it is interesting to compare our cooked Dong Ding with that of Ms Lin which is lightly cooked with charcoal. If you like this style try the aged Ali Shan 1996 which has had a more intense charcoal cook.
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