August 1, 2012
There is a man called Mr. Chang, whom the friendly Francophones at Camellia Sinensis have bought many teas from. I like that they identify this man, since so many of our consumables are anonymous. Who knows who raised the cows that made up (most) of the delicious hamburgers you stuff your face with at all hours of the day? More on topic, who grew the tea in your cup this morning?
One of the benefits of the modern age of the tea business is that we have access to more information about where our tea comes from than we could have even imagined a decade ago. Hell, James Norwood Pratt’s 1999 edition of the New Tea Lover’s Treasury states that the manufacture of pu’erh was a Chinese state secret. Nowadays, you can buy pu’erh that states right on the label what mountain(s) the raw leaf came from, who blended it, and what year it was pressed, never mind that Wikipedia details the steps of pu’erh manufacture for any layman to read over. The internet has also allowed small tea companies who send their agents directly to tea growing areas to document the transaction in words and pictures, giving us a look at this tea estate in Darjeeling or that tea garden in Vietnam. No longer does a product simply have to say “Sencha” or “Keemun” on the label.
So, this Dong Ding comes to us from Mr. Chang by way of Camellia Sinensis. How does it stack up to the lovely Dong Ding I received from Gingko earlier this year? Both are “greener” Dong Dings, as opposed to a more traditional medium roast, so I think they are comparable.
The one Gingko sells is slightly cheaper and MOA Certified Organic, while Mr. Chang’s is not organic. Does that matter? It might to you. I think organic tea is a nice idea, and it’s good that Gingko can get an organic certified tea that hasn’t been marked up in price to high heaven.
I think Mr. Chang’s tea is still worth buying, though, because it’s quite different from Gingko’s offering.
But before we get into that, here’s a picture:
That’s a pretty robust gold-green colour, isn’t it? And this is the 5th infusion, too, though I admit it was a 14 minute long one, so it isn’t so surprising that the colour has remained this strong.
The Dong Ding from Gingko is creamy and more reminiscent of flowers than of fruit, whilst this Dong Dong of Mr. Chang’s is more punchy, rough around the edges, and strongly reminds me of nectarines and sour apples, with not a terrible amount of “creamy”. I actually like the roughness, as one can get quite tired of delicate wallflower teas if one drinks them all the time.
Maybe both Dong Dings are a little one-note, though I don’t think so myself. People with more educated tongues may gravitate towards something more traditionally roasted, these greener Dong Dings (and oolongs in general) have something unique to offer.
Both of these teas have an addictive quality; you just wanna keep drinking them until your stomach explodes, and then just keep on drinking them after that. Gingko’s offering is quieter about it, sneaking under your defenses with cool, fake meekness and rattling your brain. Mr. Chang’s offering, however, storms the gates with a brass band and lasers and announces through a bullhorn “Here I am, asshole, are you in the for long haul!?”
Indeed I am.