Mi Lan Dan Cong - Spring Fenghuang Oolong Tea

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Oolong Tea
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205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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  • “2.2 grams of dark twisted leaves, with little aroma, in a small porcelain gaiwan, with water at 205 degrees for the first set of infusions with about 60-75mL water per infusion. Dropping the leaf...” Read full tasting note

From Norbu Tea

Sweet woody, honey, floral and fruit flavors balanced with a pleasantly assertive, bittersweet astringency

Charcoal roast highlights sweet, honey/fruity flavors without imparting an overtly “toasted” flavor

Harvest: Spring (Early April)
Varietal: Shui Xian – Mi Lan Xiang
Origin: Wudong Mtn, Chao’an County, Chaozhou Pref., Guangdong
Plantation Altitude: /-1,640’ (/-500 M)
10 gram sample available

Fenghuang Dan Cong oolong is a category of oolong unique to the Chaozhou area of Guangdong province. Interestingly, and perhaps a bit confusingly for those new to the tea of this region, most of the tea varietals grown in the Fenghuang/Phoenix Mountain area are considered Shui Xian varietal tea trees (same name as the more famous Wu Yi mountain varietal), but the different sub-varieties are named after the huge array of aromas the different trees produce when their leaves are processed. In this case, the varietal used in the production of this tea is known as Mi Lan Xiang, or Honey Orchid Fragrance.

The plantation this tea comes from sits at an altitude of approximately 1,640’ (500m) above sea level. The vast majority of the higher volume production and more widely available types of Dan Cong oolong are grown at an altitude of 400-800 meters, with the older and far less productive tea trees growing at an altitude above about 1,000m. The lower elevation plantations grow tea plants which are the product of cuttings from the older trees growing at higher altitudes, each of which produce dramatically different flavors and aromas.

Flavor and Aroma:
As the name suggests, the aroma and flavor profile of this tea is reminiscent of honey and orchids, but don’t be mislead by the name. It definitely has sweet, woody, honey, floral and fruit flavors and aromas, but this tea has a pleasantly assertive, bittersweet, greenish astringency as its backbone. When infused, this tea produces a beautifully clear amber cup with a sweet floral aroma. This style of tea undergoes a fairly extensive charcoal roasting after it is processed and dried, which, in addition to making this tea shelf stable/storable for a longer period of time, serves to highlight the honey and fruity flavors in the finished product.

Steeping Guideline:
Chaozhou, the home region of Fenghuang Dan Cong Oolong, is considered to be the birthplace of the Gong-Fu tea infusion method, and it is easy to see why this style of tea steeping evolved to bring the best out of these amazing teas. To steep this Fenghuang Oolong, we strongly suggest steeping it Gong-Fu style in a gaiwan. Start with 7 grams of leaf in a 100 ml gaiwan, rinse quickly, and do a series of short steepings using water just off the boil (195-205 F). If you prefer to use a more Western approach, start with a big tablespoon per 6 oz cup, pour on water just off the boil and steep for 2-3 minutes. Of course, adjust the amount of leaf and the temperature of the water used to your taste. If it’s too strong, lower the steeping temperature and/or reduce your infusion time, etc.

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1 Tasting Note

311 tasting notes

2.2 grams of dark twisted leaves, with little aroma, in a small porcelain gaiwan, with water at 205 degrees for the first set of infusions with about 60-75mL water per infusion.

Dropping the leaf into a preheated gaiwan, some fruity/peachy odors become more noticeable.

Just because I’m a tea-wimp, I started with a 10 second flash infusion just to get a sense of the tea. Even this overly dilute more or less rinse is a little fruity and sweet—peaches and honey. Very nice start.

A more proper 45 second infusion continues the sweet fruitiness, more intense, and very subtle almost grassy undertones without a trace of bitterness.

Another 45 second infusion is similarly sweet, right up front, little different from the previous.

1 minute infusion has a little astringency or spiciness starting to come through as an aftertaste, but the first and middle of each sip/swallow continues to be dominated by sweet and fruity.

1 minute 15 seconds, similar to previous.

90 second infusion, tart, fruity, sweet; spicey/astringent still mostly as aftertaste.

2 minute infusion is rather weak—the leaves appear to be reaching the end. Still sweet, fruity, and the astringency was virtually gone, but the sweetness and fruitiness were less intense.

4 minute infusion (note that the infusion temperature will have dropped quite a bit over 4 minutes in this thin porcelain gaiwan)—definitely the leaves are done. Only faint sweet/fruity/floral traces are left, and the dominant note is astringency/bitterness, although still quite mild.

This is a lovely oolong tea, quite delightful in the early and middle infusions, and brewed at this concentration, it promises improved staying power for multiple infusions if brewed more agressively—the fully hydrated leaves, which remain thin and twisty, occupy only about 25-30% of the volume of the gaiwan. I’ve mostly been brewing similar teas more concentrated, to fill the brewing vessel 1/2-2/3 full or more. At that concentration, this tea compares quite favorably to other ‘commercial’ Dan Cong style oolongs—notable not so much for endless infusions, but for mellow deliciousness that has too often been lacking in similar teas.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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