Dan Cong Hong Cha - 2011 Spring Guangdong Black Tea
Harvest: Spring, 2011 (Early April)
Varietal: Shui Xian – Mi Lan Xiang
Origin: Wudong Mtn, Chao’an County, Chaozhou Pref., Guangdong
Plantation Altitude: /-600 M)
This extraordinary tea is a Spring, 2011 harvest black tea produced from Wudong Mountain tea plants which are usually used in the production of Chaozhou’s famous Fenghuang Dan Cong Oolong. This is a limited production tea from the same producer as our Spring, 2011 Mi Lan Xiang/Honey Orchid Fragrance Dan Cong oolong.
Our Dan Cong Hong Cha is also produced using the leaves of the Mi Lan Xiang/Honey Orchid Fragrance Phoenix Mountain Shui Xian tea plants. Dan Cong means “single tree” and refers to the the single trunk of the tea trees unique to this area, as opposed to the multiple trunks commonly found with many types of tea bushes. Interestingly, and perhaps a bit confusingly for those new to the tea of this region, most of the Dan Cong varietals grown in the Fenghuang/Phoenix Mountain area are considered Shui Xian varietal tea trees, but the different sub-varieties are referred to by the huge array of aromas the different trees produce when their leaves are processed.
The plantation this tea comes from sits at an altitude of approximately 2,000’ (600m) above sea level. The vast majority of the more widely available Dan Cong oolong tea produced in the Fenghuang (Phoenix) Mountain range is grown at an altitude of 400-800 meters, with the oldest living tea trees growing at an altitude above about 1,000m. The lower elevation plantations grow tea plants which are produced from cuttings from the more famous older trees growing at a higher altitude.
Although the leaves of this Dan Cong Hong Cha look basically the same as a traditional Fenghuang Dan Cong, when the leaves are infused they produce the beautiful, crystal clear reddish amber liquor typical of a well made black tea. When tasting the early infusions of this tea, the first thing that hits me is the typical Mi Lan/Honey Orchid fragrance, but the finish is that of a very nice, not too astringent black tea. The liquor is fairly thick and almost oily in the mouth, and the aftertaste is nicely lingering with hints of fruit and flowers. All in all, this is a unique black tea that should appeal to black tea enthusiasts and oolong aficionados alike.
I would strongly suggest steeping this tea Gong-Fu style in order to enjoy the different layers of flavor that present themselves through the multiple short steepings. My personal taste is to use about 7-8 grams of tea in a 150 ml gaiwan and water at a full boil. It gives up a surprising amount of infusions when steeped Gong-Fu style, and I have had very nice results steeping this tea “western style,” as well.