What is Phoenix Dan Cong oolong tea?
Phoenix Dan Cong oolong is a rare variety of tea, with an interesting anecdote to its name. Dan Cong literally means single bush in Chinese. Historically, this kind of tea was harvested from an individual tea tree. Legend has it that traditional Dan Cong Chinese oolongs are still produced from the ancient tea trees, some tens and others even hundreds of years old. In reality, however, these teas are very treasured and almost impossible to find in the Western world. According to more prosaic definitions, the name Dan Cong Oolong is generally applied to all roasted oolong teas produced in the Phoenix Mountain region of China’s Guangdong Province.
What kind of tea is Phoenix Dan Cong oolong?
Phoenix Dan Cong oolong is harvested in the spring, plucked as a single bud and two or three leaves. When dry, the leaves are dark, slender and glossy. When steeped, they create an amber colored infusion.
Just how rare is Phoenix Dan Cong Oolong?
The answer lies in the name itself. “Dan Cong” oolong must come from a “single tree”. Traditionally, Phoenix Dan Cong Oolongs would be sourced from standalone tea bushes planted randomly in the wild, typically on mountain slopes. Needless to say, such tea trees are rare. And by extension, authentic Phoenix Dan Cong Oolongs – especially those harvested in the spring – can get pretty pricey. You’ll find a number of cheaper teas labelled as Phoenix Dan Cong Oolongs, which are sourced from tea gardens. The aroma and flavor of such teas will differ quite drastically from the real thing. That’s because tea trees cultivated in gardens are pruned frequently, which means their branches and leaves grow faster and have less mineral and organic content.
Tasting notes and reviews
The best Phoenix Dan Cong oolongs have a smooth, “long” taste. They start as toasty and woodsy and linger in your mouth, presenting sweet and fruity notes with subtle hints of lychee and dry grapes. When wet, the aroma of the leaves also bears hints of “wet rocks and maybe stonefruit”. The general consensus among tea drinkers is that a “pass-through room temp rinse” and a short pour produces a better flavor the first time around. Following this, the tea emanates a “musky, grassy aroma surrounded by a nice sweetness”. Those who aren’t into excessively floral notes will appreciate its “delicate flavor”, often reminiscent of “slightly roasted nuts with a touch of honey”. This is one of those teas that ages gracefully and gets better over time.
- Brewing your Phoenix Dan Cong oolong right is key to enjoying its interesting fruity flavor. A short first infusion will enhance these notes.
- While buying Phoenix Dan Cong, pick a spring-harvested batch. When harvested later, the tea tends to develop a bitter, astringent taste.
- Try other Chinese oolongs. Ti Kuan Yin, native to Anxi region, and Da Hong Pao from Wuyi Mountains are some of the most famous.