I was absolutely elated to find this as my free sample with my last order. Dan congs are a special favorite of mine. They always seem to have something hiding in them that burst out when you least expect it. And this tea was no exception. The flavor profile began like most other good mi lan xiangs do: a nice honeyed sweetness, middle tones of orchid, some stone-fruit or citrus flavors near the top, and roasted, woody undertones. It had great body, an excellent finish, and a clean, sweet and warm aftertaste.
Into the sixth and seventh steep, spicy notes came through, which was a pleasant surprise. From then on to steep 10, nothing changed much. Still great flavor, great body, good character. But then I came across steep 11. This was some crazy voodoo. I could have sworn someone swapped the leaves in my gaiwan for those of another tea. The flavor profile changed so drastically I could not even believe. It turned completely on its head. Heavier flavors like a new earthiness, a stronger wood flavor, and a bark-like flavor swam to the top, while the more delicate flavors of honey, florals, and stone-fruits either vanished or became undertones. The aftertaste became heartier, more “beefy,” and the mouthfeel which was not very interesting to me until this moment, became thicker and fuller.
To explain this, I’m going to guess that the leaves finally opened fully at this point, which released a ton of flavor previously trapped. The leaves had still been, until around this point in the session, twisted very tightly, still having the appearance of the dry leaf. Whatever the reason, it was a pretty fun sample to try. One thing I did notice about the leaves, though, is that there were a ton of empty stems. I won’t complain about them, because it didn’t seem to affect the tea much, but it was something I don’t find as much in other dan congs.