Hey Everyone! I’m back today with a post I’ve been planning to do for a while now but I wanted to wait until after my re-brand to do it. So today were going to be doing a Chinese vs Taiwanese baked Oolong comparison using Baked Goods and Frozen Summit from Mei Leaf. So for this comparison I did a horizontal tasting and prepared both of the teas the exact same way so I could judge them as fairly as I could. As well as sharing my thoughts on both with you and how they compare I’ll also share a little bit of information with you on the differences between them when it comes to price, processing (the changes that charcoal roasting vs air roasting makes) and cultivars.
Regarding price differences, Taiwanese Oolong is about 50% more expensive than the Chinese Oolong. It’s a fair difference but when it comes to tea it is very subjective and it just shows that the more expensive teas aren’t always the better ones. Personally I can’t pick between the two because they both have so much to offer and have incredibly complex flavour profiles. For me however, Frozen Summit is what I would reach for during winter and autumn and Baked Goods to me is better suited of spring and summer.
For this comparison I prepared these teas in the following way 5g of each in a 100ml Gaiwan, my water was at 95c and I did three steeps of each.
First up lets get the low down on Baked Goods shall we! Baked Goods is a Huang Dan Cultivar Oolong that is 10-15 hour(s) charcoal roasted using a very traditional process that is much harder to control than air roasting. In the dry aroma I get deep roasted, charcoal, slight savoury BBQ note with a savoury twang like barbecued veggie skewers with. It smells quite wild and has a little more attitude than Frozen Summit. In the wet aroma I get an initial charcoal like smoke from a bbq being carried in the summer wind which starts to dissipate as the steeps go on. I get a note of fresh strawberry / cherry (with the seeds) jam straight out of the fridge slathered on vanilla butter biscuits with a smidge of clotted cream. Which without a doubt my my mouth water and I hoped more than anything that it would carry through to the taste.
Taste Notes- very different from the Dong Ding, a really journey of waves. It definitely lingers in your mouth afterwards, I get charcoal and a mineral note that dissipates into sweet cherries like gummie cherries, with an underpinning of oat like flapjacks fruit but with a creaminess to it. Like a cherry flapjack with a yogurt topping, surprisingly I get red bean White Rabbit sweets. It’s Drying in the back to the middle of tongue, it has more physicality, taste a bit more extreme and chaotic. How it looks and how it is made definitely translates into it’s aroma and taste. Woody minerals wave across the whole tongue with a cherry tang like cherry wood on a bonfire. Definitely a tea that takes you on quite a bit of a journey. The first steep is not as sweet until the aftertaste and when you breath in, it’s a very transformational tea overall.
Cherry creamy tropical goodness is how I would describe this rather than cherry cough sweets, however it went on to taste more like cherries and cream candy. Surprisingly I was also able to pick out the strawberry / cherry jam with the seeds still in it, slathered on a fresh baked vanilla biscuit with a smidge of collected cream which reminded me of Viennese Whirls which I used to love but haven’t had in so long. I was taken back a little bit to be honest to take a sip and be instantly taken back to that memory, I do however love it when a tea can do that to me.
Liquor colours comparison – Baked Goods is definitely darker in colour and Frozen Summit a bit lighter in colour. One thing I noted about these teas during this session is how they seemed to swap and change in terms of their aromas and colour of liquor when steeped which really does go to show that you can’t always judge a tea from the aroma and appearance of the dry leaves alone. That is how you’ll end up missing out on teas you could have end up loving.
Now let’s move on to Frozen Summit shall we! Frozen Summit aka Dong Ding is a Chin Xin Oolong. It is the air roasted Oolong of the two, the process of which is a little more modern than the charcoal roasting. Because it is done with machines it can be more controlled and is done in big ovens electric heat with racks, each of which has a different temp. In recent years, teas like this have been only lightly roasted, but Mei Leaf prefer the traditional roasting of Dong Dings and therefore had this commissioned to be given a deeper fire roast to give this tea a lot more depth. So just like Baked Goods, this tea was roasted between 10-15 hours.
Dry aroma – roasted, brown butter, pastry notes, ginger snap biscuits, a hint of coffee, nuts roasted chestnuts and a hit if cashew, bit more refined and gentle, sweeter than the Baked Goods overall was which is probably down to the fact that the air roasting is easier to control. Wet aroma – spicy, spiced apple, cinnamon, nuts, subtle spicy ginger snap note. Taste notes – grapefruit sweetness with a little grapefruit bitterness and zesty tang on the sides of the tongue. It has a little bit of vanilla but very light, definitely brown butter, nicely refreshing on the tongue.
Much more refreshing than you expect, and quite zesty and bright. It was softer than I expected it to be. It’s quite like biscuits that have just gotten a little bit browner than you would have liked them to that you’ve just pulled out of the oven and are still sitting on the hot baking tray as their aroma fills your house. As the steeps went on I definitely got a little bit of cherry cask whisky from this tea and ginger snap biscuits became more and more prominent.
They don’t taste like they have been roasted for a similar amount of time, but that has because the Dong Ding process is much more controlled and refined meaning it has caught less of the heat. it’s very hard to compare the two because they are very different in the way that they taste, the wet leaves look very different and they overall flavour profiles are miles apart. To me though, Baked Goods just had a little bit more to offer for my particular taste. Howoever if someone asked me to recommend a roasted Oolong to them I would suggest both of these honestly because I had such fantastic experiences with both of them.
I hope this post has helped you learn more about baked Oolong and how differences in origin, cultivar and processing methods can effect teas. I definitely recommend you try both the teas mentioned in today’s post and if you can be sure to do a comparison session like this one to help you better identify the differences yourself, because it really is quite an eye opening experience and from it you’ll not only better you palette but it will also help you to identify the same cultivars and processing methods used in other teas you try in the future. You can find both teas and many more phenomenal teas over on the Mei Leaf website. If you have any questions at all about anything I mentioned in this post be sure to leave them in the comments or send them to me on Instagram @kimberleyskyusu