Saturday, September 12, 2009

Continue to fight for Dan Cong

I was gonna let it go, but seems like I have been accused of misleading the tea loving public. Let me show Roy Fong some hard evidence of such phenomenon.

This is a book I am translating: Feng Huang Dan Cong. It does not have a gram of my opinion. If any one reads Chinese, please correct me if I were off on the translation.

Following is the exact same description of a tree name Song Zhong #2 in Chinese as in the hard copy of this book shown in picture. Below that is my translation word for word.



生长在东经116°3838, 北纬23°5819坐西南向东北的山坡,海拔高度950米的凤凰大庵村村后的茶园里。该茶树自1660~1952年为凤凰太平寺的固定财产。1952年土地改革时间,分配给贫农黄勇,1958~1980年为大庵生产队集体所有,1980年起由黄娘庆管理,1988~2000年由黄爱国管理,2001年至现在由黄保国管理。

该树系有性繁殖植株,树龄347年,树高5.56米,树姿开张,树冠5.6×6.5米,主干因客土后不明显,接近地面有六大分桠,分枝密度中等。叶片上斜状着生,叶形长椭圆,叶长7.8厘米,宽3.7厘米,叶面平滑,叶色深绿有光泽,叶质中等,叶身平展,叶脉9对,叶尖钝尖,叶缘微波状,有24对细、浅、钝的叶齿。育芽能力较强。春芽萌发在春分,春茶采摘期在谷雨后,发芽密度较密,芽色浅绿,有少量茸毛。新梢长12厘米,着生片数3—4片,节间长3厘米,每年新梢生长2轮次,10月起为新梢休止期。盛花期11月中旬,花冠直径3.2~3.8厘米,花丝120~130枚,柱头分3叉,果实多为2籽。2007年春茶产量13.2市斤,每市斤6000元。2008年春茶产量11.2市斤, 每市斤6500元。

Song Zhong #2 – Song Varietal #2

Song Zhong #2 is also called Song Zhong Jai Dan Cong – Little Song Zhong. It’s propagated from a natural hybridized seed of Song Cha Da Ciao Peng Dan Cong - Big Thatched Shed, hence the name Little Song Zhong. Song Cha Da Ciao Peng died in 1928.

Located at 116°38′38″ longitude, 23°58′19″ latitude on a hillside facing northeast, 950 meters above sea level, in a tea garden behind Feng Huang Da An village. It was property of Feng Huang Tai Ping Temple from 1660-1952. During the Land Reform Movement in 1952, this tree was assigned to Mr. Huang Yong. It was then owned by Da An production team from 1958-1980. It’s under the care of Mr. Huang Nian Qing in 1980-1997, Mr. Huang Ai Guo from 1998-2000, Mr. Huang Bao Guo since 2001.

This tree is propagated sexually, age 347 years old, 5.56 meters tall, spread out tree body, tree crown is 5.6X6.5 meters, main trunk is not visible after additional soil, 6 split branches at ground, medium branch density. Leaves grow slanted upward, long oval shape, 7.8 centimeters in length, 3.7 centimeters in width, smooth surface, flat leaf body, shiny dark green, medium thickness, 9 sets leaf vein, round pointy leaf tip, slightly wavy leaf rim, 24 pairs small, shallow and blunt saw teeth. Sprout growth is strong, spring sprouting begins around Spring Equinox, picking begins 15 days later, dense new growth of light green color with small amount of white down. New growth is up to 12 centimeters long, 3 to 4 leaves on each stem separated by 3 centimeter. 2 new growths each year, stops growing at the beginning of October. Blooming season is in mid November, 3.2-3.8 centimeters in flower diameter, 120-130 stamens, 3 heads stigma, 2 seeds in each pod. It produced 6.6 kilograms of tea in 2007, sold for 12000 RMB per kilograms. Produced 5.6 kilograms of tea in 2008, sold for 13000 RMB per kilograms.

*2 市斤 = 1 kilo

I am not trying to be righteous. But this is getting out of hand and too many people are getting involved, some are even from over seas. The authenticity of Dan Cong, reputation of Chao Zhou people and mine are on the line, I am going to bust out a direct source of the Feng Huang Dan Cong book for Roy Fong to contact, Mr. Yao Guo Kun. Mr. Yao Guo Kun is currently the head of Chinese International Tea Culture Research Institute - Academic Department, also vice head of Zhe Jian Forestry Institute - Tea Culture Department.

Roy's comment: I am sorry that this has become so heated, and yes I do read Chinese. The fact that we are talking about documentation in books should stop us from arguing this further. What works in theory doesn't work so well in practice. I am not saying that no one ever made tea from one bush, but to have enough for commercial sales is simply not practical. A picture of someone picking tea from a tree is a far cry from actually producing tea. Perhaps someday you and I can be on a tea farm together to witness the actual production of 5 kilos of finished tea from one bush...

In response to Roy's comment:

I don't understand why is it so hard for Roy to believe such practice exist in the old days and today. This book is published this year, written by some one has 25 years of Dan Cong growing and producing experience, plus a masters degree in Tea Biology currently teaching at a University on subject of tea cultivation. If that does not make his THEORY (as Roy calls it) practical and REAL, I have nothing else to say. Let me clear it again, we are talking about small individual tree production, not mass quantity production as in a run of the mill tea farm. What is enough for what quantity production must be clarified. I am not saying a tree will produce enough for the mass population with thousands kilos of tea, a few pounds is a very reasonable and producible amount from one tree. This is not considered as commercial production, it's ALTRA RARE (borrowed term from ITC) also sold in markets. This is not even a secret! Why is it so hard for a man to admit he's wrong!

Please do not disqualify others with less than 20 years of tea business experience to take on this debate. Discrediting documentations all together is not a way to update tea knowledge in my opinion, combined with taking for granted of one's long term working experience. It's sad to find such mentality in any industry. Theory alone is not enough, experience without theory can only take you so far as well. From Roy's contacts' response, China is as misinformed or not informed as people in the US. It's understandable that one region's tea producers do not know about another region's tea. Asking a Yunnan Pu-erh producer about Dan Cong is like asking a Mexican to cook French cuisine, isn't it? The most reliable source of correct information is from the people grow those trees and make them into tea with their own bare hands.

I am willing to take anyone who's interested in witnessing tea produced from a single tree to Chao Zhou next Spring, Roy is more than welcome!


Anonymous said...

Imen, let me say that it seems outrageous to expect that these trees wouldn't be harvested for sale as long as they're producing in health. And why wouldn't the producers claim the heritage of each of them? I don't understand why these well-documented practices would be faux. It seems to me these Chinese have every reason to be doing it and there's no good reason for doubt. What I'd like to know more about is my own favorite, Pu-erh. Sure, there are fakes and false claims with it. But there are of course still ancient trees harvested and real Pu-erh selections half a century old or even more. Just because there are impostors doesn't mean no one is actually doing the real thing. I can't imagine it isn't quite similar with Dan Cong. --Spirituality of Tea

Herb Master said...

Mary and Robert Heiss also describe the Single Trunk version of the name Dan Cong.

I wonder if the phrase has or still does have a different meaning in different times, places or circumstances.

It would be nice if you and Roy could become friends and share some joint study to produce a truly authoritative understanding for all your tea friends.

Do you know if the modern tea groves are being maintained as single trees rather than bushes?

Imen said...


Excellent logic!

Herb Master,
I understand the tea community is in dyer need of direct and correct information. That's why the book is in working right now. It will answer many many many questions I have been asked and not asked yet. Please be patient. :)

I wish I had 36 hrs in a day, just long enough to finish the book. :P

RTea said...

I can sympathize with the frustration you must feel over this issue and the continued lack of recognition for your corrections from the appropriate sources. It may seem like a trivial matter, but I agree that only by presenting correction information can accurate knowledge be passed and preserved.

I don't know much about dancong, but would love to go on a trip there sometime to learn more about the most famous tea from my home province!

Imen said...


Thank you for your support of the facts. I'll announce a trip as harvest season come close next year. :)

Jon Oda said...

Still can't wait to see this book when you finish...thanks, Imen!