A quick note to share what I'm drinking today: a true dong ding guei fei oolong from the Gatineau tea shop I've been frequenting lately. I bought a small sample of this tea back when it first arrived with the spring oolongs and was warned that brewing this tea properly can be quite tricky. Happily, roasted oolongs seem to be my forte, so I've never experienced any great problems with this one.
Unlike Stéphane's concubine oolongs, this guei fei was harvested at the usual time between late spring and early summer (if memory serves, it may be more distinctly early summer). Summer being a season known for bitterness and astringency, this tea has a greater propensity to dry the mouth and rough up the throat than many. However, if brewed using hot water and short infusions using plenty of leaf, I've found these undesirable traits can be successfully manages most of the time, bringing clean, thick, and powerful sweet ripe fruit to the forefront.
The aromas and tastes are broadly characteristic of the genre, with a clean sugar sweetness in the bottom of the cup changing to apple cider as the stoneware cools. Being closer to a spring harvest, the emphasis is more on the finer and lighter aromas and flavours than the fall and winter harvested teas with the same processing technique I've tried.
To me, a wild (or semi-wild) tea with a tendency to be bitter or astringent is rarely a thing to be feared. These elements seem to often signal a more powerful or robust tea than one that simply isn't good. These teas are as far from insipid as it gets, no matter how they're prepared, and when they're brewed well, they can be among the most rewarding. The process of tasting them cannot be boring, and if nothing else, it's a canary in the coal mine of brewing technique. This is called gong fu cha, after all...
A bit of housekeeping: Thanks to my recent acquisition of a lovely little bit of increasingly ubiquitous technology designed by Apple, I'm now able to write posts pretty much anywhere. The tradeoff comes in the form of photos and formatting, options for the former being few and nonexistent for the latter. Nevertheless, my hope is that this will allow me to post shorter bits of content more regularly in addition to more infrequent lengthy posts.