Our DMS Jin Xuan Hoarfrost Oolong is the winter picking of Jin Xuan tea cultivar in Doi Mae Salong, north Thailand.
Doi Mae Salong – Center of Tea Cultivation in North Thailand
Doi Mae Salong is the center of tea cultivation in north Thailand. Since the end of the 1980’s, there’s a number of Taiwan-imported tea varieties growing here, besides the native Assamica type tea tree. One of these tea cultivars is the “Jin Xuan” or “N° 12” cultivar. Here, at altitudes between 1200 and 1600 meters, the tea plant finds optimal conditions. Among these is the climate, consisting of 3 seasons. These are a rainy period, a hot and dry period and a cold period. Meanwhile, the local community, consisting of ethnic Chinese settlers and several mountain tribes, has made tea the region’s major cash crop. In Doi Mae Salong, teas are still all handpicked today, and manual processes still play a major role in processing.
The Jin Xuan Tea Cultivar
In north Thailand, the Jin Xuan – or “N° 12” – tea cultivar, originally from Taiwan, was introduced during the 1990s only. As part of an initiative of the Royal Thai Development Project, it was to serve as one of several alternative cash crops for substituting opium cultivation. Initially, onsite studies conducted by Taiwanese experts had identified Jin Xuan as one of the most suitable tea cultivars for cultivation here.
Jin Xuan Processing Variations
Meanwhile, processing variations for Jin Xuan in north Thailand go way beyond the production of the classic Jin Xuan Oolong Tea. For example, there is a black, or “red” Jin Xuan tea in Doi Mae Salong now, too. And just another variation of the extremely versatile tea cultivar is Jin Xuan Hoarfrost Oolong Tea. This is the product of a picking run outside the common picking cycle, usually in December. It’s because of the early morning frost being on the tea gardens during that time that northern Thai tea producers have dubbed this tea Hoarfrost Oolong Tea.
In terms of taste, the winter picking of the Jin Xuan cultivar has come a long way from the teas of the spring and summer pickings. To this end, it shows a broad spectrum of pronounced fruity notes that are missing with the latter ones. With extended infusion periods, these combine to a a bold malty body. What makes the Jin Xuan winter tea further stick out is the Hoarfrost Oolong’s taste’s unique complexity and multilayeredness.
The secret with the Jin Xuan winter picking is the careful selection of the correct leaves to pick. Now, this is a task, in which our producer partner at Doi Mae Salong is downright excelling. However, there’s downside to this. Due to the resulting low yield, our stocks might not suffice through the year.
The preparation of our DMS Jin Xuan Hoarfrost Oolong ist just about as versatile as the tea plant it comes from. As for other Oolong teas of medium oxidation level, a water temperature around 85°C is optimal for Jin Xuan winter tea, too. Further, we recommend a dosing of 3g tea leaves on 200ml water. For a first steep, let infuse for 2-3 minutes. Then, one minute for a second steep. And on it goes, with slightly increasing infusion periods per steep. This way, DMS Jin Xuan “Raureif” Oolong (Winter Tea) easily scores 4 – 5 well worthy infusions.
However, with the Chinese tea ceremony “Gong Fu Cha”, tea masters will infuse this particular Oolong tea significantly more often. At this, the extended series of steeps serves to isolate and showcase individual aspects and patterns of the tea’s taste. However, the ritual Chinese tea ceremony will usually apply shorter infusion periods and higher dosing than the western approach.
For more information and illustrations on the Jin Xuan tea cultivar, please also read my dedicated blog article:
And for more information and illustration specifically on our Jin Xuan Hoarfrost Oolong (Winter Tea), please read on here: