Tea packages in Asia do not come very well labeled. Yes, it can say Dongding tea on the front but level of roasting and the extent of fermentation remain as elements of surprise. I had asked for a highly roasted Dongding tea, which is how this type of tea was originally made, but ended up with the lightly roasted version. In its own unique way, this tea has won me over.
The dried leaves come in tightly rolled balls and carry a light but distinctive fragrance. The brew bears a transparent light green hue and the first infusion smells are likened to a mix between Gyokuro tea and high mountain oolong. This being a rather green and light Oolong tea surprised me by its smooth, mildly sweet and refreshing taste. There is not a hint of discomfort caused by astringent elements and this makes the tea an easy drinking one.
Looking more closely at the open leaves, there is a close resemblance to the colours of shaded Gyokuro leaves which could possibly explain their similarities in taste and the distinct seaweed flavour. The leaves are like those of a Taiwanese Oolong tea, two leaves and one bud. They are big as you can see yet very soft as they break off easily from the stems. This phenomenon I believe is a sign of quality leaves that contributes to the tea's overall performance in terms of levels of clarity, astringency, sweetness, fragrance and aftertaste.