Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Get to know Phoenix Dan Cong (4) - Seasons

Phoenix mountain is located in subtropical climate in southern China, lowest temperature does not exceed 5 degrees C. Most plants in the region are not dormant during winter. Phoenix tea trees produce tea all year round. Production begins around late march as official spring crop, April production is also spring production. May production can be either early summer production for low altitude farms, and still spring production for high altitude farms. June and July are summer productions. August can be either late summer for high altitude or early fall for low altitude. October is winter production. November to February productions is a blur, some times it's call winter-spring crop. Due to low production in fall, winter and early spring, farmers either mix everything together or skip production all together depending on the altitude and age of trees.

Commercial products (young trees averaging less than 20 yrs old) below 800 meters above sea level:
Spring (Mid to late march through early April) - aromatic, sweet and astringent
Early summer (late April to May) - Summer tea - bitter and astringent
Late summer (June through July) - Summer tea - more bitter
Early Fall (August through early September) - Fall tea, aromatic, more than spring production
Late Fall (Mid September through beginning of October) - Fall tea
Early Winter (October) - Fall snow tea, most aromatic out of all season, but lack of flavor
Later Winter (November) - Snow flake tea, mild flavor and aroma
Pre-spring (January through February) - very little production, mild flavor and aroma

Old Dan Cong bushes (50+ yrs old) above 800 meters above sea level:
Spring (April through Mid June). This is the only production of the year. Even though trees will still grow through out the year, growing rate is too slow to produce anything significant, flavor is also not good enough to command high price. Most farmers leave the trees alone to preserve nutrient. It's especially important for trees that are 200+ years old.

5 comments:

Salsero said...

Thanks for your continuing information.

Now I am going to pester you with still another question: What is Song Zhong Dan Cong and why is it sometimes placed in a class apart from other DCs?

I hope you had a good time and didn't work too hard for your lunar New Year celebration.

Dennis said...

I want you to know that we are aggregating your blog entries on the Twinings site. You'll notice your site is on the blog roll and your posts can be found on the top tea blogs page. We would appreciate a link to the Twinings Tea blog on your blog roll or links section too. While we may not be posting all the blog entries from your site, we attempt to post all your entries pertaining to tea drinking.

Imen said...

salsero,

Song Zhong is a blurry area for me at this time. There are a few area where Song Zhong applies to.

1. Phoenix tea was discovered at the end of North Song Dynasty, hence the whole genre of phoenix tea is also call Song Zhong (Song varietal).

2. Trees were planted during Song dynasty and are still alive are called Song Zhong. It's direct descendants (2nd generation) are call Song Zhong something as well. There isn't anything significant about the name in this case. For example, Song Zhong Zhi Lan Xiang which includes 8 of the clones and the 2 mother trees which are from the song dynasty. Guo Ba Xian (one of my stocks) is one of those 8 trees with its own identity. Song Zhong Zhi Lan Xiang is a big umbrella for those 10 trees. The descendants of the 8 trees (ba xian) has a generic name Zhi Lan Xiang which is a type of fragrance.

3. Song Zhong is also a name of one particular (most famous) tree which is about 600 years old, its mother tree died in the 1920's which was over 900 years old.

There isn't a specific dedicated use of the term Song Zhong. It's confusing to begin with, and some producers tag on the term Song Zhong to entice buyer due to its well known status.

Salsero said...

Ah, so it sounds like Song Zhong is more a marketing device than a serious name for a type of tea.

Thanks!

Imen said...

salsero,

Yes, what you see in modern day market is most likely to emphasize status of this old varietal (phoenix tea all together) of tea.