Dan Cong is delicate and some what difficult to brew. Ok it might be the most difficult to brew. I had trouble when I first encounter DC. Either the aroma was not as pronounced or the tea became bitter fast for most of the commercial grade Phoenix Dan Congs Oolong Teas.
Like any tea, water, temperature and timing are crucial in maximizing the potential of the leaves.
DC prefers slightly higher PH water (7.25-7.5). Here in Southern California, tap water can be used after boiled with bamboo charcoal. For better result, filter tap water with Brita then boil water with bamboo charcoal, after water is boiled, simmer for 10 minutes with just enough fire to keep it hot but not bubbling. Well filtered water such as reverse osmosis filtered water can not bring out the aroma and the honey taste as well as the above method. Tea would have a soapy slippery texture without the honey and fragrance. When water is right, tea would have a buttery honey water taste.
1st boil = shrimp eye, lots little bubbles forming at bottom of pot, rising slowly, sounds like bamboo leaves swaying in strong wind
2nd boil = crab eye, medium size bubbles travel up fast, loud popping noise
3rd boil = boiling, fountain like water surface, no more bubble, constant humming noise
For new teas (under 5 yrs): use 3rd boil water for first infusion. Pour boiling water from low to high and make sure leaves tumble around. Force plus temperature will open up the leaves from aroma to taste. Use 2nd boil water for the next 3 infusions, 1st boil water when leaves open up entirely.
For old teas (5 yrs and older): 3rd boil for first infusion. Pour water from low for every infusion. 1 boil for the next 2 infusions, 2nd boil for subsequent brews.
For very old teas (20 yrs and older): 3rd boil for immediate in and out rinse, drain and shake all the water out, even just a few drops, leave lid open and wait till temp drop to room temperature, then brew as above method.
Old bush will not turn bitter or too astringent if left in water for too long.
Recommended time: 15, 10, 10, 13, 13, 15, 15, +5 to +10
# of infusions: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.....
Phoenix teas are closer to wild varietals compare to other domesticated varietals, it can be bitter when the tree is young, especially summer/fall productions. In situations like that, steep for shorter time (minus 5 seconds from above) for the first 3 infusions. Leave of this quality can last about 7 or 8 infusions. Old bushes can last 15 - 35 infusions.
Quantity (for old bush DC only):
3 to 5 g for old bushes, unless you like it strong like the chao zhou style then use 7 to 9 g when using a gaiwan or a clay pot no larger than 120 ml.
When not using kung fu style method, use 1 g in 120 ml gaiwan, steep for 2 minutes in boiling water.
Use gaiwan to enhance aroma. Use THIN wall small clay pot to enhance taste and texture, small chao zhou or zhuni pot would be good choices.
Chao zhou stove, clay water kettle, olive pit charcoal, chao zhou red clay pot, do NOT use cha hai (pitcher) and aroma cups.
A little trick to taste/smell your tea. Use 2 fingers to close your nostrils, take a sip of tea, swirl it around your mouth to feel the texture. Then let go of your fingers, the flavor and aroma will purge through your nose, you can clearly smell the flavor with intense sensitivity. It's kinda like separating the taste and smell from the same sip of tea. You can experiment with other food too.