Friday, January 30, 2009

Time to take out your forgetten Phoenix Dan Cong teas

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. :)


Herb Master said...

Aaahhh, if only I have the willpower to leave some of your tea until next year.

I have just started on your
2008 Wu Dong Huang Zhi Xiang:
2008 Shi Tou Huang Zhi Xiang

both very enjoyable, pleasant, interesting and rewarding, I may be tempted to finish all the packets.

I would be interested to know what level of roasting each had particularly the Shi Tou as they leave a much roastier impression on me than any of the DanCongs I have had from other suppliers.

Would you expect this aspect to recede in 12 months time?

The packets seem to be loosely sealed, folded over tops and a strip of sellotape, If I do decide to keep them for a long time should I transfer them to a more airtight container, or should placing the whole packet in an airtight canister suffice?

Herb Master said...

I am saving the 2008 Jiang Hua Xiang until I have gained experience with some of your other DanCongs.

When you originally notified that it was available you suggested that tasting notes would follow once you had tried it a second time, do you still intend to post tasting notes or have I overlooked them?

Imen said...

Herb Master,

Both Huang Zhi Xiangs are not much different in roasting. The Shi Tou HZX however is more fermented than the Wu Dong by about 10%. The tea soup is creamier/thicker and sweeter than Wu Dong due to the tree is older. The heavier fermentation gives it a darker color than Wu Dong as well. It shouldn't be roasty as in smoky or wood fire smell. I don't detect that from the few grams I tried today. This tea should remain the same unless is left in the open carelessly.

Dan Congs are preferred to place airtight metal canisters for long term storage without the bags.

You can get a glismp of the Jiang Hua Xiang using only 1 g of leaves in a medium to large size "very" thin gaiwan, off boiling water,you may steep it for minutes without ruining the flavor. This will give you a sense of how the aroma is as what to look for later with larger quantity. Do not use thick Yixing pots.

This tea was sold out before I had a chance for another tasting. From my vivid memory, the aroma was very pronounce, it's unlike any aroma you will find in any other teas. The texture is also very full and creamy, with a clean honey taste. it's pure in every way, yet rich subtly. Like bad perfume and beautiful perfume, the former can choke you to death, the later you can't stop sniffing. :)