Phoenix Oolong tea has a lot of wild characteristics even though has been cultivated with human attention for 8 to 9 hundred years. The wildness has been tamed and fine tuned beautifully. It's delightful to drink even the newest harvest. However it gets even better with time.
Every year around Chinese New Year, DCs from last Spring taste better over all, smoother, sweeter and rounder than fresh in the previous year. Fresh harvest are more aromatic with a edgy texture, with the exception of old bushes. Even old bush teas improve texture after 10 months. Commercial teas being more dramatic in improving flavors. Locals prefer drinking 1 year old DCs or older. If you had a DC that's bitter or harsh at the time you purchased it, give it a try again around this time. You might find a nice surprise.
Why such a transformation in relation to time? Phoenix oolong is composed of 38% disolvable chemicals in each leaf. As soon as they left the tree, these chemical compounds begin to oxydise, generating new additional chemicals, wilting for hours in the sun and cooling in shade ensure further oxydation, the right moisture content to provide the right amount of oxydation at the right pace. Each tossing, cooling, kill green, rolling proceedure provides the right stage for the chemical compounds to react. 2 to 4 times of roasting prepared the preliminary production called Mao Cha. The entire process takes 36 sleepless continuous hours from the time the leaves arrive. It takes another 4 to 8 roasting to finish off the Mao Cha before it hits the retail stores. The last 4 to 8 roastings are done through out the year. First one is a few weeks after the mao cha production in general. The last is around Moon Festival (mid to late September). Roasting during the year is to reactivate the glucos transformation. After 3 to 4 months rest from the last roasting, the edgie texture is significantly mellowed out. If aged for years with occasional roasting every other year or 2, your DC will be silkie smooth like an old lover. :)