Thursday, February 16, 2017

Tasting: Tillerman Tea Spring 2016 Dong Ding Roasted Oolong

February is always a tough month. The skies are often grey and dull. It's cold and dark when I wake up and return home from work. It's too cold to take long walks with the kids, so weekends are fidgety and anxious. For these and many other reasons, it's been a tough winter.

One of the bright spots is sharing tea with friends. It's amazing how much lighter and airy things feel after a few shared steeps. We try to cultivate this convivial feeling in the office with our weekly Tea Club meetups. We've recently tried to pay more attention to our tea and snack pairings and this week we had a successful go at it.

I love a good roasted oolong and decided to serve Tillerman Tea's Spring 2016 Dong Ding Roasted Oolong for our Office Tea Club gathering this week. We were doing a Valentine's Day theme with peach heart gummies and chocolates. I thought the roast and apricot notes would work well with the sweets. It's also been cold and snowy here and I find roasted oolongs to be super soothing and cozy in winter (but really I love them any time of year).

Dong Ding (can also be written as Tung Ting) translates to 'frozen summit'. Makes sense since the tea is grown on its namesake mountain. The Tillerman Tea website helpfully tells us the tea was grown by Chen Fang Yan with the oolong cultivar Qing Xin. It's 20% oxidized, and roasted.

The dry leaves were nutty with hints of caramel and wood with a pleasing sugary sweetness. I noticed a light floral aroma as well. I'm not well versed in flowers so I couldn't tell you what kind. The first infusion was super roasty and comforting. Almonds, apricot, and nice crunchy toast came to mind. The tea is also quite sweet, which everyone found enjoyable. Subsequent steeps found the toast and apricot flavors sticking around, and each pour was super smooth and sweet.

I tasted one of the peach gummies that had been splashed with tea and it was delicious! The toast and apricot flavors in the tea seemed to highlight the juicy sweetness in the gummy candy. I had to dunk one right in my cup after that. Anyone want to create a peach oolong candy for me?

My potpourri

I have to confess-I kept the infused leaves on my desk for a couple of days, because they smelled so good. I may have taken a sniff here and there to boost my mood. Perhaps like a toasty, fruity tea potpourri. Or aromatherapy. I'll definitely need to purchase more of this tea since it did such a nice job of dissolving my winter blues.

To learn more about Tillerman tea, check out my interview with founder David Campbell, and check out their website. Thank you to Tillerman Tea for the samples.

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