Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Can This Phoenix Rise From The Ashes?: A Sampling of 2010 Red Dan Cong

This years tea harvest was hit hard by cold spring weather that influenced much of the tea production in Asia this spring. Perhaps the hardest hit was Phoenix Mountain, the home of Phoenix Dan Cong Oolong. It is predicted that only 1% of single bush high mountain Dan Cong will be available this year. Bad news for those who enjoy a regular Dan Cong.

This tea comes courtesy of Life In Teacup and is a true story of ingenuity and survival. Apparently, facing the complete destruction of their 2010 crop, a quick acting farmer banded together all the people and farmers of the surrounding area and mobilized them to pick the recently frost-bitten new growth tea. He knew that freezing triggers an oxidization reaction in tea and if he acted fast he could perhaps create a more oxidized variety of Dan Cong thereby recouping, at the very least, a small portion of his losses. Interesting story.

The kettle rumbles to a boil, the pots and cups are heated. The sample pack is cut and all the leaves dumped into the warm pot. When the dry leaves hit the warmed clay, a deep, rich, sweet odour fills the air surrounding the tea table. Sweet, strong, peachy apricot notes carry a deep candied maltiness. These dry leaves are filled with lots of yum.

The quick first flush carries the smell to the cup, then to the mouth. Malty, sugar cane sweetness with peach apricot flavours. Good aroma. The aftertaste is malty with fruity notes that step back from the sweet malt that is left behind. The mouthfeel is mainly develops on the tongue but encroaches on the rest of the mouth.

The second infusion becomes more dry and acidic. Fruity passion fruit tastes are caught up in a slightly medicinal mustiness. The aftertaste this time is malty and medicinal. The sensations of this tea can be felt full in the mouth and even traveling to the throat.

The third infusion is sweeter, lighter, and tangier. The wonderful smell of this tea falls off fast, by the third infusion there is a fraction of what was. Soft mandarin orange notes are noticed under lessened medicinal tastes. The mouthfeel is full and dry. The aftertaste remains malty and medicinal in nature.

The fourth infusion is thinner and grittier with malty medicinal notes hogging the flavour profile. The fruity, lighter notes are buried in this infusion. A liquorice aftertaste remains that doesn't stick around as long. The mouthfeel covers the mouth but doesn't seem as full or satisfying as before as the throatfeel has all but disappeared.

The chaqi is light, airy and fairly active- dispersing throughout ones body and mind.

The fifth infusion is tangy, malty, and has a subtle touch of orange. The aftertaste is more faint but carries more lighter notes. The mouthfeel has retreated to the front of the mouth.

The sixth infusion carries lighter malty notes- lighter than last infusion. Nothing stands out in particular. There is a soft and dry medicinal aftertaste that with extended time turns into malted peach.

This tea is taken to seventh, eighth, and ninth infusions but there is mainly just light malty notes left with fading mouthfeel and aftertaste.

Edit: It turns out that hours later, at the end of the day, one noticed that the aftertaste of this tea was still lingering in ones mouth! This was particularly strange (although it has happened before) because two meals were consumed between when one finished the session to when the lingering aftertaste was noticed. It was about the time one realized that oral hygiene had been skipped ;)
Double Peace


Sir William of the Leaf said...

My sample of this should be arriving shortly!
Ever since I had heard about this tea, my interest has been perked!

Matt said...


Surprisingly, this tea still tastes very Dan Congy- retaining much of its character. Will link your tasting notes when you post them.


jonathan said...

MattCha: Have you tried Imen's dancongs from teahabitat? teahabitat dancongs are extremely expensive - but very good. Would you say that this dancong is comparable?

Matt said...


Haven't tried Imen's Dan Cong- heard that they are very good.

This Dan Cong definitely lacked some dimension of the typical Dan Cong due to its unusual production. On the hand it had a few quirks of its own.


Joseph said...

As I'm writing about Phoenix Oolong, I thought I'd check your blog to compare experiences, I'm most struck by your edit, I find the same thing, that the taste returns for hours throughout the day. I occasionally get that with high mountain oolong from Taiwan, but never as strongly as Phoenix oolong.

Matt said...


No aftertaste lingers longer than that from a good Dan Cong. Still have not put in enough time to get too deep with this type of tea.