Taiwan has great oolong tea competitions. The competitions are organized by local tea associations and endorsed by local governments to guarantee their credibility. The participants are mostly oolong farmers. Tea competitions for growers started in 1975 as a way for producers to promote their crop. The first competition was organized by the Tea Growers Co-op in Lu Gu township - the home of the famous Dong Ding Oolong tea. The competition was open to all tea growers in Taiwan and offered a fabulous award for first prize - NT$4200 per jin (600 grams).
That first competition back in 1975 set the standard for future events. The rules and judging methods have remained almost the same over the years. There can be no identifying marks on the packaging - all tea must be judged "blind." The competition jin is divided into 3 lots of 200 grams each for each stage of the competition. Three grams of tea leaves are used to brew the tea in 150 cc ceramic pots and the tea is allowed to steep for 6 minutes. As many as 30 different teas can be judged at the same time. After it has steeped for for the required time the judges use 3 criteria to grade it - smell, appearance and taste. At each stage of the competition there may be 4 or 5 levels of winners. The top levels proceed to the next stage until a winner is finally selected by panel discussion amongst the judges.Each producer must submit his tea in 22 lots of 1 jin each. Of these 22 jins, 1 jin is for judging, 1 jin is for consumers to sample, and 20 jins are for auction.
The competitions select teas very strictly. Only teas of the best quality can enter the final competition, and the rest will be rejected. Teas from some competitions are very hard to get. Most competition teas are sold out before or soon after the awards are publicized. And for most competitions, it's extremely hard to get the top award teas. All teas are submitted by farmers or tea merchants who are directly related to tea farmers. The honor goes to the farmers and local factories, the real producers. Each award title is restricted to the specific 27 lb. tea submitted to the competition. The same farmer may submit multiple entries to a competition and may win multiple awards of various levels. But a farmer may produce hundreds of pounds of tea each year, and winning awards doesn't mean all this farmer's tea is award-winning tea. When you buy a competition tea, what you get is just the tea accepted and strictly inspected by the competition committee. Taiwan Oolong Competitions' solid credibility is established on this strict rule.
Nan Tou County Tea Commerce Association Competition (Nan Tou is the home county of Dong Ding Oolong). This competition is featured with medium to high roasted tea products. There are two competition events every year, in spring and in winter, winter is the best harvest, Dragon Tea House is offering our customers with winter competetion tea only. The award levels are titled: 1st Prize (Grade I), 2nd Prize (Grade II), 3rd Prize (Grade III), three-plum-flower (Grade IV), two-plum-flower (Grade V) and excellent Prize (Grade VI).
The competetion oolong has been roasted well. Not all Taiwanese teas are roasted, but for those that are, there is a certain reverence among producers for those that do it well. It is a point of pride and honor to be considered a skilled roaster of oolong tea. In fact, Tung Ting, one of the most famous Taiwanese oolongs, is often judged by how well it has been roasted. It is quite common for people to buy large quantities of un-roasted tea, roast it themselves at home, and re-sell it for a profit. Even many competitors in the Lugu Farmer’s Association’s prestigious Spring Tea Festival are not the original growers, but actually just roasters! By roasting tea, an individual can leave his or her mark on a tea, forever changing its character and creating something entirely new. The roasting process can take anywhere from a few hours to several days or weeks. During this time, the tea master must carefully watch, smell, and taste the tea so that he or she can control and manipulate the process. Flavors will come and go over time, and the tea will continue to change for a short time even after it has been taken away from the heat source. Because of this constant change, the tea master must anticipate the changes and stop the process before the tea reaches its best. Too long and that perfect flavor will disappear, but too short and it will never attain its pinnacle. It is a subjective process that takes lots of experience, plenty of patience, and a bit of luck!
Liquor of competetion Dongding oolong is a amber or gold-amber. Deep and resiny wood notes in the aroma, with roasted grains, mesquite and pit fruit flavor. Sweet and roasty, with great depth and clarity. The tea is balanced, deep, and full of the rich toasty notes that oolong teas are loved for, with the pleasing fragrance and body for which Taiwan teas in particular are prized.
Brewing Guide: We highly recommend brewing Dong Ding Oolong gongfu style to appreciate its many layers of flavor. Dong Ding oolong may be prepared in a regular teapot, an Yixing clay pot, or in individual cups. Use about 1 tsp. per cup (8 oz.) of water heated to 80-90°C (176-194°F). Infuse for 2-3 minutes and pour off. The leaves may be resteeped 1-3 times.
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