Dong Ding (Frozen Summit) Oolong

Dong Ding Frozen Summit Oolong tea Taiwan Tea History Tung Ting

Why named Dong Ding (Tung Ting) oolong tea?

As a saying goes, “ 北文山,南冻顶” (In the north there is Wenshan, while in the south there is Dong Ding),  it depicts the two most famous Baozhong tea in Taiwan: Wenshan Baozhong and Dong Ding oolong. Dong Ding oolong was named after Mount Dong Ding in Lugu county, Nantou town, Taiwan where the tea trees are cultivated. People might mistakenly think that Dong Ding is a high mountain that is cold and rigid due to its name by literal which is “frozen summit”, however it is actually a 700-meter high mountain with an average temperature of 20 ℃. Why it is called frozen summit? Back in those days when the Hakka Taiwanese tea farmers start cultivating oolong tea in this region, the mountain was called “岽顶”(Dung Den), which means “mountain summit” in Hakka. Later it was written by Fujian Taiwanese as “冻顶”(pinyin: Dong Ding, Wade–Giles: Tung Ting) based on the pronunciation. Dong Ding or Tung Ting became more popular and accepted by local people, therefore the name of the tea grew on this mountain.

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Origin of Dong Ding oolong

It is said that Dong Ding oolong was first cultivated in the Dong Ding Mountain region during the Qing dynasty. In 1855, a scholar named Lin Fengchi [林风池] from Lugu, Taiwan wanted to go to the capital of Fujian for taking an exam (Taiwan used to be the territory of Fujian province, China from 1684 to 1895), but could not make it due to lack of funds. One of his clan relatives supported him with money and he eventually had a good result in the exam. In order to express his gratitude to his clan relative, he introduced the renowned Qingxin oolong tea [青心乌龙] from Wuyi mountain to be planted in the Dong Ding area in Taiwan.

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Characteristics of Dong Ding oolong

Dong Ding oolong is a ball-shaped, semi-oxidized tea with a dark green body and a reddish edge when open up. The tea liquor is clear with a golden color. It has a rich floral fragrance and sweet matured fruit taste. Dong Ding oolong is also a very patient tea. Usually, it can be steeped more than 10 times when brewed in Gongfu style. Compared to Wenshan Baozhong, Dong Ding oolong is more oxidized (Wenshan Baozhong is 10%-20% oxidized while Dong Ding oolong is 30%-40% oxidized), and it has a darker color in the tea leaf and the tea liquor. In terms of tasting experience, Wenshan Baozhong has a refreshing flowery fragrance, while Dong Ding oolong has a richer and more complex fruity taste.

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