I’ve been pretty jealous of all the people who have access to high end Dan Congs, and I’ve been longing for some good stuff myself. Finding good quality tea that’s affordable for this type has been a pain in the tuckus though. I’ve been tempted to get the stuff priced at a dollar per gram, but I want to be able to try MORE teas, so I need to have a better strategy.
Since I have not had Harney in a while, I checked out their Dan Cong offerings for the year and they had more than usual for 2018. I saw this one and hesitated to buy it since it was $48 for about half an ounce each of this tea, although Song Zhong’s tend to be a little pricier anyway. Then the new years sale was promoted, and I snagged some.
These are four Song Zhongs from four different teas. They all have a very similar aroma, and they all almost look like the same tea. The variety comes in how strong they were in aroma and flavor, and the ratio of the notes because they were all creamy, floral, and fruity. All of them were on the greener end of medium on the oolong spectrum.
I drank them in order, sometimes gong fu, some times western in a tumbler.
No.1-Described as the most floral of the bunch. It was, giving me a milky iris note in the taste. It tastes very close to the Zhi Lan I have, and it can occasionally have an apricot note, but it is very buttery and creamy. I might even use butterscotch for a note on this one, although it’s still very floral and just the hint peachy. It does last pretty long, and it is fairly enjoyable. It’s not too finicky and can endure some longer steeps over 30 seconds, but it can get a little astringent if I’m not careful. It does remind me of some Japanese milk candies. Rating it between 87-90.
No. 2 is Fruity, and it’s my personal favorite. Of course there is orchid and peach, but the dry leaf is so fragrant that it reminds me of candy. Lychee immediately came to mind when drinking it, then mango, and it only became citrusy in the later steeps. It is a little milky like number one, but not too much so. It’s like drinking lychee candy. Rating it around 90-91.
No. 3-a pain in my behind, and it has been finicky for me. Harney describes this one as having the most body. I’ve yet to find that personally, and only Gong Fu works for this tea in very short steeps of either 15 second increments or the 3-3-5-7 I just started using. Even when I did the 30 second method, the tea was speaking to me “I’ll only give you a sneak peak…and then nothing else. Maybe I can show you my floral ankle for a little bit?” And then it was just muddled. This tea does have the body and general profile that the others do, but it is more subtle. I was only able to coax it later on, and some peach notes come through. This one might grow on me, but it is my least favorite so far. Rating 85-88.
No. 4-They describe it as creamy, which seems repetitive because that describes all of the teas. It’s got the apricot, peach, orchid, and iris florals like the others, but it is thicker in its body and texture. It’s fruitier than number 1 sometimes having something that reminds me of strawberry (something I would not normally write about a dancong), but not as fruity as number two. Aroma is fainter than 1-2 as well, but it still has some. Creamy is a good descriptor, but I’ll have to experiment more with it because it does have some complexity. 89-92.
I’m glad I got this sampler because you don’t see very many U.S. vendors selling this variety. The price is okay, but it’s solid overall since other companies will charge you through the nose for a Song Zhong. I think this is best suited to intermediate tea drinkers, because I could see some experienced drinkers snubbing it for not having enough complexity or lacking an angle like roast, or they might appreciate it for it what it is. I’m pretty happy with the sampler overall, and I’ll probably write more about these bad boys in the future.
Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Butterscotch, Candy, Creamy, Floral, Fruity, Orchids, Peach