On Dongding and highest quality tea

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Aug 11th 16 7:43 am
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On Dongding and highest quality tea

by Bok » Aug 11th 16 7:43 am

I recently read Teamaster’s blog article of this years Dong Ding competition, spring tea. The winner sells at 5000 USD for 300 grams!

Gets me thinking what kind of tea the less well connected and affluent among us drink…
Or put another way – how much better can a tea this much more expensive be?
Would we even be able to discern a proportionate difference?

Of course this prize is also high due to the rarity and because it is the “winner.”

But still keeps me wondering can a tea be so much better to justify these kinds of prices?
Anyways, those are the kinds of teas a foreigner will almost likely never be able to try or buy…

Maybe better not to think about those mystical teas and be happy with what we can get and like to drink!

Aug 11th 16 7:56 am
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Re: On Dongding and highest quality tea

by Bok » Aug 11th 16 7:56 am


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Re: On Dongding and highest quality tea

by Tead Off » Aug 11th 16 9:11 am

Bok wrote:I recently read Teamaster’s blog article of this years Dong Ding competition, spring tea. The winner sells at 5000 USD for 300 grams!

Gets me thinking what kind of tea the less well connected and affluent among us drink…
Or put another way – how much better can a tea this much more expensive be?
Would we even be able to discern a proportionate difference?

Of course this prize is also high due to the rarity and because it is the “winner.”

But still keeps me wondering can a tea be so much better to justify these kinds of prices?
Anyways, those are the kinds of teas a foreigner will almost likely never be able to try or buy…

Maybe better not to think about those mystical teas and be happy with what we can get and like to drink!
You should ask Stephane if he gets to taste some of the winners. After all, they taste the teas and determine who wins. I'm sure there are more subtle differences than overt ones. A lot of 'face' goes into bidding at these events. I have been to many auctions (not tea) and invariably, people get carried away when they have money and want something. Value is often determined by the rich.

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Aug 11th 16 9:24 am
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Re: On Dongding and highest quality tea

by Drax » Aug 11th 16 9:24 am

Agreed. My experience has been that quality and "amazingness" is NOT linear with cost per gram....

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Re: On Dongding and highest quality tea

by kyarazen » Aug 11th 16 1:51 pm

i'll ask the head of the lugu farmer's association if he happens to be in singapore.. i heard they're here at a trade fair :) :mrgreen:

i think its the same as durians. as you get into the "A" grade cat mountain durian.. durians of this grade from different plantations and altitudes can appear to be different, but all still very tasty. one will probably need to nitpick the flaws to crown something

Aug 11th 16 4:01 pm
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Re: On Dongding and highest quality tea

by ethan » Aug 11th 16 4:01 pm

How much can one get beyond "WOW!"?

Obviously, the auction scene mentioned is for people w/ $ to burn. I don't think we should worry about not getting to drink $5000 tea because we can find tea that is fantastic that is affordable.

E.g., I tried a "medium-quality" donfangmeiren oriental beauty that was the best o.b. I had ever tasted. 10 minutes later I tried a better one, "top quality", which cost 4 x as much. I bought both. I am sure that the difference between them was minimal. I would not miss the much more expensive o.b. at all when drinking the cheaper o.b. The difference was academic, noticed only when the teas were tasted together for direct assessment.

I cannot say that about durian. Not every variety has the "Wow" factor. So much of the best durian goes to Singapore, Japan, etc. For 2 years I have not seen top varieties of durian at the markets I frequent in Thailand. Also, in Chiangmai durian prices skyrocketed as Chinese tourists buy it at high prices at carts on the street though the durian is not of the better varieties & unripe or over-ripe. I fear I will never taste wonderful durian again.

Bok, I think for 3 - 8 x what you pay for "everyday" tea in Taiwan, you can find tea that makes you very, very happy. I don't think 100 x more the $, one gets tea that is better significantly (& I probably will never get the chance to find out I am wrong).

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Aug 12th 16 2:00 am
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Re: On Dongding and highest quality tea

by kyarazen » Aug 12th 16 2:00 am

i dont eat a single bit of thai durian..(chanee, monthong are used to "fake" premium malaysian species in singapore, the kanyao wasnt spectacular either despite its ridiculous price esp from nonthaburi)

neither do i drink much of thai tea :) maybe occasionally some chai-yen but that is probably not even tea, a mix of coloring agent and caramel/other flavours.

its subjective, one of my zen practicing friends tell me water's as tasty as tea.. well.. he has transcended material goods.. good for him!

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Re: On Dongding and highest quality tea

by ethan » Aug 12th 16 5:01 am

kyarazen, Even before tourists could drive from the middle of China through to Thailand & thus drive up prices, buying durian in Thailand was a tricky business. Usually, a whole uncut durian was chosen & weighed, the price given & if acceptable, I was committed to keep whatever came out of .... Sometimes I was lucky enough to enjoy monthong for taste & qi that was thrilling. I have never eaten anything else that equalled that experience.

I have not tasted durian that was not from the Philippines or Thailand. I assume that all durian requires lucky timing since I do not like it if it is not ripe & find it disgusting when it is overly ripe. If some durian from Malaysia is better than monthong, & you have perfect timing, I am jealous of you kyarazen.

I believe that the tea dust used for what one buys "on the street" is from tea leaves for sure (& possibly stems) & dye. (That low quality tea dust costs so little I cannot imagine the bother of adulterating it.) A lot of tea dust is used but it is re-used & added to a lot of sugar & sweetened condensed milk which also has 6 - 10% coconut oil. All in all, not so healthful; yet, I used to drink it daily & still have it a few times a month when in Thailand. Cha menow does not have the milk, rather calamansi, Thai lime, & sometimes a pinch of salt. I drink it when very hot.

Tea-village in Pattaya sells high-end black Thai tea flavored w/ star anise, vanilla, cinnamon, etc. that makes a superior Cha-yen. Its base is tea leaves not tea dust. I brought some back to the USA & enjoyed a few glasses; but the setting for enjoying Thai ice tea is the street. It is for cooling off: relief from heat & a bit of energy to cope w/ traffic & noise.

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Re: On Dongding and highest quality tea

by Bok » Aug 12th 16 2:02 pm

Interesting turn to our discussion.

I have only had Thai and Vietnamese Durian. Not bad to my inexperienced taste buds.
But I have also heard that only one Thai variety are exported, the others countries seem to be to delicate to transport.

Malaysia seems to have a lot more different kinds than Thailand and Vietnam and seem to be superior in taste.
A lot of different shapes, sizes and flavour profiles. Maybe I get the chance one day to see for myself!

Mind you it is not very far from where I live, but family life imposes its own kind of restrictions...
At least the one with very little family members :P

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Re: On Dongding and highest quality tea

by daidokorocha » Aug 13th 16 2:38 am

I have liked every durian I have ever had. Having said that, maybe my mind would change if I had better quality durian.

About tea, I think that after a certain price point, the difference in quality is A) Often not overtly discernible and B) a poor return on the price. This is similar to wine and most things you can think of that have high market values.

To me, tea is like soy sauce. I do a lot of soy sauce tastings in Japan and there are tons of great soy sauces out there. However, most mid-range ones are good enough for most purposes, obviously. Sometimes they can be better than more expensive ones for certain tasks. I used to buy cheaper soy sauce, but these days I stick to the mid-range. That isn't even saying though that the cheaper stuff is bad, it is just that there is a discernible difference between the two. Then, there is the chemically processed soy sauce that makes me spit out my food instantly due to how disgusting it is. To me, the biggest jumps in quality are between lowest quality to low-high then medium quality, and then high-low quality. After that, things tend to get sketchy. The high-low often contains enough of what it is in the high-high to make it so you aren't willing to break the bank on the premium stuff.

In tea, I suppose this is like carry-out co oolong, to something like sea dyke TGY, to a nicer medium range oolong, to something more like Chen's oolongs that the board is enjoying before venturing off into much more premiumly priced oolongs.

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Aug 13th 16 5:19 am
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Re: On Dongding and highest quality tea

by kyarazen » Aug 13th 16 5:19 am

would it be a surprise for you guys to find out that this year's champion tea.. is not traditionally roasted.. but...


electrically roasted? :D

Aug 13th 16 8:29 am
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Re: On Dongding and highest quality tea

by Bok » Aug 13th 16 8:29 am

kyarazen wrote:would it be a surprise for you guys to find out that this year's champion tea.. is not traditionally roasted.. but...


electrically roasted? :D
Not a surprise, but a disappointment...
According to Stéphane it seems to have been excellent.
But he said what we have also concluded, better price value can be had easily.

Also the winner of a competition is the best of the participants, not necessarily the best that is around ;)

One of my trusted tea vendor said he doesn't bother anymore to attend those events, not worth the effort.

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Aug 13th 16 10:16 am
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Re: On Dongding and highest quality tea

by jayinhk » Aug 13th 16 10:16 am

"Da Hong Pao can sell for up to US$1,025,000 per kilogram or US $35,436 per ounce (20g of Da Hong Pao tea from one of the mother plants was sold for ¥156,800 in 1998)."

Makes me wonder what DHP worth that much is really like, and if it's worth the price. Some Fujian tieguanyin can be ridiculously expensive at auction too.

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Re: On Dongding and highest quality tea

by kyarazen » Aug 13th 16 1:47 pm

Bok wrote: Not a surprise, but a disappointment...
According to Stéphane it seems to have been excellent.
But he said what we have also concluded, better price value can be had easily.

Also the winner of a competition is the best of the participants, not necessarily the best that is around ;)

One of my trusted tea vendor said he doesn't bother anymore to attend those events, not worth the effort.
:P the winner this year used electrical roasting. but using those means he could get a clear ginger flower note that gave him the winning edge..

btw.. its with great fortune that eastern tea came by singapore and they are now at takashimaya basement (ngee ann city) till 28th August.
the owner is a renowned tea judge and his dongding oolong has won the champion several times. had a brief chat with him and bought his championship tea. the aromatics and the delicate refineness of his dongding is from the use of leaves from other regions.. up to over 2000m altitude.. into dongding oolong processing.

not terribly expensive (150g for 188 singapore dollars) which probably gives an average of about $1 usd per gram.

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Re: On Dongding and highest quality tea

by jayinhk » Aug 13th 16 1:54 pm

kyarazen wrote:
Bok wrote: Not a surprise, but a disappointment...
According to Stéphane it seems to have been excellent.
But he said what we have also concluded, better price value can be had easily.

Also the winner of a competition is the best of the participants, not necessarily the best that is around ;)

One of my trusted tea vendor said he doesn't bother anymore to attend those events, not worth the effort.
:P the winner this year used electrical roasting. but using those means he could get a clear ginger flower note that gave him the winning edge..

btw.. its with great fortune that eastern tea came by singapore and they are now at takashimaya basement (ngee ann city) till 28th August.
the owner is a renowned tea judge and his dongding oolong has won the champion several times. had a brief chat with him and bought his championship tea. the aromatics and the delicate refineness of his dongding is from the use of leaves from other regions.. up to over 2000m altitude.. into dongding oolong processing.

not terribly expensive (150g for 188 singapore dollars) which probably gives an average of about $1 usd per gram.
Interesting, so his dongding is really a mix of high mountain leaves from across Taiwan?

I also found it interesting than an electric roast won the competition. My guess is electric roasting allows for much more precise temperature control and less variation in temperature across the roast than with charcoal, where you have much less control as the temperature would inevitably go through peaks and troughs.

As for not entering the competition...why wouldn't a producer enter, when it guarantees a top shelf price for your tea?

Post from MarshalN: he refers to dongding 'style' as higher oxidation and roast than standard green gaoshan.

http://www.teachat.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 11#p289311