Southeastern China is the birthplace of oolong tea. Oolongs originated in the Wuyi mountain range located in northern Fujian province roughly 1000 years ago. According to old Chinese tax records, Fujian’s neighbor to the west, Guangdong province, has produced oolong for nearly 900 years. The oolong grown in Guangdong was certainly influenced by the manufacturing processes developed in Northern Fujian, but makes use of a unique strain of an old tea cultivar called dan cong. Dan cong was originally produced in the Golden Phoenix mountain range, which is why these teas are often referred to as Golden Phoenix Oolongs whether they were produced there or not.
Dan cong translates to “single grove” or “single trunk.” Over the course of hundreds of years, dan cong has been pruned into a single-trunk tea tree, hence its name. Old trees resemble small fruit-bearing trees like those you might see in an apple or peach orchard. This year, our Honey Orchid Dan Cong comes to us from 60-year-old trees. The age and small yield create exceptional quality tea.
Dan cong is one the most interesting tea cultivars because it comes in different aroma types, or xiang. Each aroma type tends to be similar to various fruits and flowers, making dan cong the doppelganger of the tea world. Some of the more common aroma types are honey orchid, orange blossom, and snow orchid. The complex aromas found in dan cong come from the unique concentrations of minerals, such as magnesium, found in the rocky soil where dan cong grows. Few tea plants could survive in such a harsh environment.
Our Dan Cong has an aroma and flavor reminiscent of honey orchid, apricot, and peach. It is sweet and fruity with a bright floral aroma that borders on herbaceous. The mouthfeel is soft and slippery, while the finish is slightly dry and lingering like a crisp white wine.
Use 5 or 6 grams in a gaiwan. It is very important to rinse dan cong with 210F water since residue from the high temperature roasting can adversely flavor the cup. For the first two infusions, steep using 200°F water for 40 seconds. Increase the third and fourth infusions to about a minute apiece. Due to their astringency, dan cong teas are not recommended for iced tea.