The “Phoenix” is a mythical bird that bursts into flames at the end of its life, burns to ashes, and then is reborn from those ashes. The new phoenix is even better than the previous version. This tea is like that mythical bird in that each infusion is better than the one before. Famous for its floral (Magnolia) fragrance and long sweet aftertaste, Dancong Oolong steeps up a thick liquid prized by tea connoisseurs.
The tea varietal is a 30- to 50-year-old clone of a more than 600-year-old Feng Huang Dancong tree, and the leaves were harvested in early April. This tea, unique to the Chaozhou area of Guangdong Province in China, is in the orchid aroma category, having a distinct, natural magnolia (Yu Lang flower) aroma and honey taste that delivers lingering pleasure yet is quite different from other orchid teas like Da Wu Ye. Most of the tea varietals grown in the Fenghuang/Phoenix Mountain area are considered Shui Xian varietal tea trees, which is the same name as the more famous Wu Yi mountain varietal. However, the sub-variety names refer to the wide array of aromas the trees produce in the processed leaves. The varietal used here is Yu Lan Xiang (“Magnolia Blossom Fragrance”).
Open the package and inhale the aroma of the tea leaves. You will be intoxicated by that fresh magnolia blossom perfume cloud, intense and a bit bittersweet. There is a touch of “green” bitterness in the background. Sometimes there is a slight hint of coconut in the finish, adding an interesting element.
Use a gaiwan for steeping, water heated to 100°C, and start with a quick rinse. The slightly twisted dry leaves will “wake up,” soaking in some of the water and releasing a divine magnolia blossom aroma. Watch your steeping times, starting with 20 seconds, then 25 seconds, and adding a few seconds for each subsequent infusion. As many as 10 infusions are possible.
If you love oolong but haven’t tried this one yet, it’s time to give this excellent and fragrant tea a try.