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Recent Tasting Notes
Years ago I was given a jasmine oolong from Guangdong, that was one of the teas that set me on my tea journey. It was wonderful mix of jasmine scent and oolong fruitiness. Over the years I have suffered through many jasmine scented teas looking for that tea. They are always the same — over powering jasmine perfume that completely covers the tea. Until now. This tea is what I’ve been looking for all these years and its not even a scented tea — jasmine never touched this tea. The fragrance of the liqueur is like walking through a garden and catching the smell of jasmine in full bloom. But the taste is a slight cream with the orchid taste fans of Dan Cong oolongs love. Jasmine flavor follows, but the quality of the tea shines through. Mouth feel is wonderful with long satisfying after taste. A gaiwan will make the jasmine more pronounce while a clay pot gives you more fruit and a subtle jasmine — a Chao Zhou pot gives you a wonderful balance of fruit, cream, jasmine, & orchid.
I have tried all different ways of brewing and drinking this. The flavor I brought out was wonderful, but nothing like the depth and richness brewed into it by Imen, at Tea Habitat. I clearly haven’t learned to brew tea yet.
Brewed from water stored in a clay vessel, and into a clay water pot, over a small clay charcoal stove, into a teapot made from clay from the same region as the tea…..well, it creates a layer of flavor and depth to the tea that must be tasted to be believed.
Earthy, full, and grounding. 10 plus infusions still yielded a tea that still had wonderful flavor, as it lessened in color. Brewed Gongfu style in a Yixing tea pot, it is said to be able to take 20 plus infusions and still be flavorful, even when brewed clear in color. The effect of this tea is felt on the whole body, as you drink each infusion you may notice different effects.
I always really enjoy this. It’s wonderful, and the people I share it with agree. It’s not hard to brew, either. Good to the last possible sip, and the aroma in the cup is still something I linger over, when it’s done.
I use a Brita filter on my faucet, and for many things, it’s fine. But for the oolongs I have been exploring, the water seemed to be getting in the way. I’m so over bottled water, and I don’t live by a stream……So lately I have been using a piece of bamboo charcoal in the kettle, when I boil water for tea or miso soup. It seems to act as a filter, and also mineralize the water, to some extent. It’s made a huge difference, with the results being amazing pots of tea. Should have tried this long ago.
Just got started with this one, a little late in the day, so it’s going to have to wait overnight for a full tasting. The first couple of infusions, leaf enough to fill my little yixing Dan Cong pot about 60% full at this point, and water about 195 degrees, were quite brief—pour in, pour out. They show layers of sweet floral flavor, peach and lychee, quite delicate and lovely, and promising for more tomorrow.
Several more infusions, still mostly quite brief—had to dilute on accidental minute-long infusion several fold to get back to the concentration that makes me happy, and it did make me quite happy. Sweet, fruity, floral, but not the degree of spiciness that I associate with my favorites of the Dan Congs. More when I’ve reached the bottom of this tea….
Edit again: I never finished the post, but I did finish the tea—the leaves stopped making interesting infusion somewhere between the 20th and 25th infusions.
First time I’ve tried this tea: it’s a lovely tea, delicate and richly floral. I didn’t weigh the tea first, not really trying for a formal review, or take notes infusion by infusion, but it’s already apparent, about six infusions in, that this is a very friendly and forgiving sort. If it were less pricey, I’d call it a good beginner’s Dan Cong.
Editing to add some morning after impressions—still infusing the same leaves, left in the teapot overnight: spicy notes coming to the fore this morning: cinnamon & cloves along with the floral. Very nice.
Sweet and caramelicious, as described. Very very smooth and delicious. I’m brewing a little more than a gram of tea in a tiny yixing pot, water about 185 degrees for a start, amazing lovely stuff. This would make an excellent ‘starter’ Dan Cong—hard to imagine it going wrong in any unpleasant way. 3 infusions in, still very lovely. Sweet, caramel, fruity—stewed fruit rather than fresh, perhaps—and just a hint of spice.
Back many infusions later—infusions 30 seconds or more now, water 205 degrees, and still delicious—the spiciness is to the fore more now, and still sweet and rich, but a little thinner. Quite a lovely tea.
Stunning initial sweet fruity scent when put into the preheated Chao Zhou teapot. Unfortunately I forgot to weigh the tea beforehand.
And the tea lives up to the preview aroma: superbly fragrant, sweet, fruity, delicious first infusion at 10 seconds. Very little change yet at the third very brief infusion. Gorgeous stuff.
Up to the 6th or 7th—lost track. Still keeping infusions fairly short, this one will be about 20 seconds. Have to set it aside for now, more later!
Now on to the 12th or so, after the poor leaves had to sit overnight. Some of the wonder was definitely lost in the sitting overnight, but still, this sweetwater phase is pretty sweet—nudging the rating up a bit more. LOVE this one.
If it were any more intensely aromatic and floral it would be too much—it’s right up there, close to the line that divides ‘fantastic!’ from ‘like drinking shampoo, yuck!’, waving at all the jasmines that went too far into undrinkability.
arômes liqueur: fumé à l’attaque, miel, fruité,végétal, minéral,lacté
texture: lisse, doux
saveurs:légèrement sucré, sans amertume
longueur en bouche sur notes végétales et minérales
Préparation: 2g (échantillon complet fourni par Imen) /zhong 7cl/(100°C,15");(95°,10");(95°,15");(95°,20");(95°,30")
au bout de ces infusions les feuilles sont toujours repliées. Méthode d’infusion pas optimale, à améliorer.
Burying my nose in this packet of tea struck me with a strong whiff of real orchid scent. It wasn’t overpowering, but delightful and sweet. I brewed up 3g in a 90ml pot for short bursts, and the tea can’t be described with anything but “amazing.” The liquor is a warm gold, with a distinct silky feel to it that I was surprised to detect in such a clear tea. At first, the honey notes bowled me over, but with careful steeping this eventually shifts to airy florals. It is very easy to brew this one too light and get no fragrance, or too long and go too bitter, but dedication is so so rewarding. You can seriously sit all day with this tea, and not be disappointed.
I’m now several sessions in with this tea, and still don’t have a good formal tasting session where I’ve kept track of grams of tea and infusion times. I can say for sure that I can detect the resemblance to osmanthus, that it is floral, sweet, fruity, and tart; that it is possible to get a bitter infusion out of it, but I have to push it very hard, because it is a very forgiving tea; that it can yield many infusions, because I’m sure this batch is probably at least at 15 if not 20 infusions—I’ve refilled the kettle twice to at least the one liter mark, there is still half a liter in it, and it wasn’t entirely empty when I started this one; and that it is delicious brewed in a thin porcelain gaiwan as well as in a Chao Zhou pot from Tea Habitat. Good stuff. I will put the leaves to bed now but if I weren’t going home for the evening I’d try for another handful of long infusions.
Tasting for the first time…
Just picked this up yesterday at Ku Cha House of Tea in Boulder, CO.
By the description, I expected a heavier tea. This is actually quite light, very smooth. I did steep for 2 minutes only – my preferred time for most teas, even black teas. It has a slightly vegetal smell. I don’t taste the chocolate of the description. I taste…a hint of red wine. It’s not at all grassy, but yes a bit malty.
I like :)
My second steep: this time 3 minutes… Still very smooth, no bitterness at all. Still getting a hint of red wine. Am I crazy – have inadequate taste buds?!?!? I don’t care. This is tasty. The color is a rich brown, though not as dark as a black tea (at least in my green/brown glazed ceramic cup).
Gotta recommend this one for anyone who enjoys an oolong :)
I’ve been having trouble with this one: I bought it hoping it would be a little less intense or touchy than the full on Dan Cong versions, and that it might permit some bulk brewing for sharing with a wider group. It works decently gongfu, but not for the bulk brewing. So for the purpose I had for it, the rating should be low, but as the tea is meant to be brewed, its fine but not fantastic.
2008 Song Zhong #5
Phoenix Dan Cong Oolong from TeaHabitat,
A first brewing of a spectacular tea. I was intending to reach for my 60mL Chao Zhou pot, having planned on a small series of infusions, but without really paying attention grabbed a larger pot instead. So there were fewer than anticipated infusions because the tea was really quite dilute. Despite that, it really shone.
Sweet, scent of dried apricots from the long, thin, twisted, quite dark brown leaves
Used 1.5g leaf in 100 mL clay pot—which as you can see is not much for the size of the pot
205 degrees, first infusion 20 seconds—still that apricot scent, floral in the first infusion, and the flavor matches—stone fruit with flowers. Oh my oh my.
2nd infusion, 45 seconds, sweet, floral, fruity, more intense with the longer infusion. A touch of spice—cinnamon, mace—on the back of the tongue, along with the floral.
3rd infusion, 45 second, more of the same—floral, fruity.
5th infusion, 1 minute—spicier coming to the fore, with the fruity/floral notes still rounding out the flavor, felt more at the sides of my mouth and in the sweet aftertaste. I open my mouth, inhale though it, and the sweet floral taste remains. I set a part of this apart in the aroma cup, and when I remembered it a couple of minutes later, it had cooled, but still, wow!, it was brilliant.
6th infusion, probably 2-3 minutes, more floral and fruity, didn’t drink it slow enough to really process the flavors in great detail.
Setting it aside for a while now, before I float away on this pool of tea inside me.
A 7th infusion again needed more patience. Will go away from the next one for a while, but pour water over the pot to try to keep it hot and brewing….
And 8th at about 6 minutes was clearly demonstrating that the leaves were spent. Sigh. They’re still an elegant mix of red edges and green middle.
Can’t wait to do this one again with the Chao Zhou pot and double the leaf.
Link to my web page version with photos
I’m really enjoying this one in my tiny yixing or late evenings at work. The tea is mellow, floral, a little spicy, and I cannot begin to think how it could have inspired someone to think of duck poop as they prepared or drank it. It’s just too nice a dan cong!
Checking the now fully hydrated leaves (at infusion 8 or 10 or so), it looks like I put in enough leaf to fill the pot halfway when fully expanded. I’ve tried this one with denser packing and that risks a degree of bitterness that I do not enjoy, so I go more dilute for full enjoyment.
Edit to add: I forgot to mention fruity! the late infusions, when it is closing in on ‘sweet water’, still retain a delightful peachiness. If this is duck poop, the duck is laying golden peaches instead of eggs.