Dan Cong is a specimen of the Shui Xian family in the category of Oolong, produce in Feng Huang Shan, Chaozhou, Guangdong Province. The dry leaves are usually rolled into long needle form. From my understanding, Shui Xian (water fairy) family includes: Da Houg Pao, Dan Cong and Tie Luo Han among others.
The origin of Dan Cong is made of leaves of the famous Song dynasty trees growing on the top of Wu Dong mountain, near the Wu Dong cave.
This is last year Wu Dong Peak, Song Zhong Dan Cong. Told to be made from tea of several hundred year old bushes. Besttea.com, Teahub and http://teemann.blogspot.com/2005/11/phoenix-chronicles-part-1.html have very good info on this tea.
A 26 years vintage "water fairy" oolong, from Wuyi's "heaven's heart" cliff. How poetic.... Tastes like Mou Tai wine for some reason!? (no joke). Companying with a 150 ml "Shui Xian" pot, a very old friend.
Promised a friend in Boston to do a 8582 finale today. So I dug up my remaining 25g early this morning to let it breath for 10 hrs. (the first production of this blend was recorded within 1980 to 1985)
Here are the infus 1 to 11, using a 50ml pot for 4g tea. 3 ranges of boils, Poland Spring water: fish eye water.* shrimp eye water.** shrimp eye with 1 shot of cold water.***
Instant Rinse sit 2 mins. water* Complex Woody, camphor, linen, leather and full.
I am going to combine both aroma and flavor together. It's hard to break this down with this kind of tea....
1 INFUS. 10 sec. water** (left pic. top cup) Liquor color: Burnt Amber / Clear / Gloss Bitter sweet, woody and I am saying Lots of Wood, on flavor and nose! Camphor, dry mouth and thick, not so balanced. Very active, but not astringency, strong palate, numbing lips and tongue. Cranky!
2 INFUS. 15 sec. water** (left pic. bottom cup) Liquor color: Burnt Amber / Clearer / Gloss Still bitter sweet, corky, little bite on the palate. Minerals / metallic / talc. Still very woody and camphor. Aftertaste is too complex to break-down yet, sweet and hint of sour and mint.
I am using 15sec instead of instant or 5-10 sec steeping, because I am familiar with this tea. This way, I get more complexity and multi-dimension to the first 5. I find this best to test the changing of it's character thru aging, this method burns me with a deeper memory.
3 INFUS. 15 sec. water** Liquor same till the 5th. Talc! Old time grandma's cosmetic foundation! Bitter sweet chocolate, still camphor with more bite. Clean and clear, hint of mint finish (maybe this is the reason of breaking down the camphor characteristic). Numbing persisted. I am loving this brew. Complex and Nostalgic. Full (dense) and Alluring. Liquor has good legs / tears.
4 INFUS. 10 sec. water** Powerful. Minerals / Talc, pronounced sweetness overall in mouth-feel and aftertaste. Bitterness gone. Very alluring because it's mellowing down.
5 INFUS. 30 sec. water** Liquor color: Golden Amber / Clear / Oily The tea is in the stage of recovery. My motion at slow, entering the stage of calm and peace. Numbing affected the mouth thru the throat. Sweetness lingers from the back to the front. Mucus forming from the back of throat. Breaking little sweat.
I called this "Calm before the storm." Good puerh tends to have a stage of retreat around 5-8 infus. Tranquil but alluring. Drinking way too fast! Have to pace myself better! Resting for 10 mins before moving on.
6 INFUS. 45 sec. water*** Liquor color: Golden dark Amber No more legs. Fresh, fruits, hint of dry plum, floral. Hint of talc turned perfume. Much more fragrance. Medium oolong bouquet and finish.
7 INFUS. 45 sec. water** Liquor color: Golden Amber Aftertaste overwhelmed with sweetness. Sign of a dying oolong with the oily finish. Peach....? Cooked peach! Clean talc cosmetic reappeared!! Dry and brut in the beginning, then moisturizing the throat, mucus forming. Still numbing.
8 INFUS. 60 sec. water*** Liquor color: Light Amber Fruits to Veggie! Spinach, Fresh Songyi mushroom, White bamboo shoot, Lotus seeds, (Yes, I am crazy!!) Talc. Clean, light woody and minty finishes.
9 INFUS. 60 sec. water*** Liquor color: Light Amber Lying down to enjoy... way to mellow, calm and breaking sweat. Motivation of reporting heavy... enjoying the moment.... Lotus seed, lotus leaf, cosmetic talc, minty light camphor, kept coming....
10 INFUS. 75sec. water** (Right pic. top cup) Liquor color: Medium Light Amber Talc and Explosive sweetness, coating both breath and throat. Mineral fragrance, short but powerful. Dry finish then moisturize the mouth. I think this temp is a bit high. Should go back to water***, it created the oily taste, over cooked.... Still clean finish, but minty gone, camphor gone, woody gone.
Anyone getting sick of this yet!? I am going to cold brew this after the 11th. for a couple of hrs. At this stage drinking this cool is The Mandarin's way : )
11 INFUS. 90sec. water*** (Right pic. bottom cup) Lotus is back! This are a handful of puerhs I'd encountered with lotus bouquet and flavor. I prefer this over the aged / pickled plum. Much more elegant and refined. Sweetness and numbing persisted. I am predicting the talc going to come back in a different way.
Overall, a challenging tea. Not elegant as introduction in the first 3 infusions. Lively and Cranky. Surely will show bite-marks if handle carelessly. Surprising personality. Very wholesome and pleasurable. It's a great paring with my Epicure No.2 1997, Hoyo de Monterrey.
The robust complexity of this 80's cake reminds me of my other 80's brick from same Factory #2. Will post the comparison in the future. http://themandarinstea.blogspot.com/2006/05/600g-80s-menghai-factory-brick.html
12 hrs later....
This is the 18th infus. After a couple more heated steepings last night and a cool brew sitting overnight. I transfered them to a larger gaiwan. Using a "traditional Yunnan high mountain brewing" in short, NO BS. Hot water** tea in bowl. More water to tea ratio now. Some leaves have not fully unfurled (thanks Lawrence : ), dark green, brown and blackish to the stems, large and medium size leaves.
Winter Melon, Talc, floral, hint of bamboo, soft on the palate but thick on the throat.
Finally I find the true talc flavor: This is a floral talc, perfumed powder cosmetic talc with peony bouquet! And where is my lotus?
I am going to end this, I believe everyone including me had enough....
It's merely a 2 hrs drive between Nannou and Yiwu. But the direction of agriculture has taken a very different turn.
Lining the hills is not tea but RUBBER! Because of the fast growing rate / profit margin of rubber, plus the changing economy in Malaysia and Indonesia. Farmers are growing rubber instead of tea in these region, forcing old tea plantations to be re-planed.
Rubber plantation on the left. (Looks like tea to me in the beginning).
Wild Bamboo forest in Yiwu, which contributes to the bamboo character in the tea and usage of packing with its leaves.
Middle bottom is "Coal". It is still the main energy source, so as the source of smoky flavor. (Just my option in some cases).
Finally, the famous / infamous camphor... the trunk in the middle. Most of the younger tea plantations have no "Wild habitat" surrounding the tea, so you just add some...
To say the least, yiwu is a very challenging tea. The ability to please both the palate and intellect. This 2005 spring bing in the middle, holds all 4 characteristics a young yiwu should have: 1. Qing 2. Camphor 3. Bamboo 4. Orchid
Hint of smoke / firewood / camphor and strong / dense sweetness aroma on rinse leave.
Wholesome "complex", offering multidimensional aroma / flavor, without heaviness. Wordless to describe the pleasure, challenging the palate, layers upon layers in one-dimension quality.
Hint of bitterness, bamboo, camphor, green tea, with little bite and lumping to the lips. Then it hits you with the orchid frangent and sweetness that coats the throat in bursts and brut after-taste.
This is why I enjoy young bings. The vigor and energy, stubbornness not to mellow down. Much like myself, death with a fight! With all these character, maturing of this tea will be an exciting process....
This is one of the finest large cakes I'd encountered so far.
Top image is the 001 memorial cake of 999 made for the movie 茶马古道 Tea and Horse Road, the signatures were from the whole crews of the movie production team. This cake was shot in Kunming last November 05 and the bottom images are one that I purchased.
Interesting thing is the aging difference of both. 001 cake is stored in the store exposed. Mine is within the packaging. The Kunming one shows sign of aging in a very evenly manner and coloring of a 5-9 years cake, very brown for a 3 years old. Mine is still very green....
I am storing mine in Hong Kong and will see the difference it will make comparing location, climate and open air vs. sealed.
DESCRIPTION of compressed globular form with a short neck, the curved spout set opposite the arched loop handle, surmounted by a domed cover with an oval finial, the reddish brown patina with a grainy texture, inscribed on the base jia chen nian da bin zhi ('made in the jia chen year by Da Bin'), old Japanese box
This comes in a 2000g cake form. A kind tea friend from Boston translated the description from the box:
The special characteristics is that the tea trees are of a good variety. The buds and leaves are covered with small hair, and the made tea is heavy and solid, with obvious white hairs. The tea leaves are also silvery white, with a high fragrance and the tea liquor is clear and bright, with a smooth taste and sweet aftertaste, and is durable in infusions. It is named after the producing region's specialty.
The producing region is in the Mingle village, Dacun yangta (place name, I presume). The area is covered is mountainous and covered in dense forests, and the climate is mild. It has been under cultivation for over 140 years. Around 1840, the Chen family brought a few dozen seeds from jiangya (?) tea hills , stored them in a bamboo shaft and carried them back to plant. The trees are still there. White tea is different from other teas in that the colour is specially white, looks good, and the officials responsible of the area at the time ordered them to make "White Dragon beard round tea" and used it to paid tribute to the central court, thus it became a rare exotic tea.
The First Trip to XiShuangBanna, Yunnan Fall 05. To find the source of this wonderful and mysterious tea.
One of the head village tea-picker in the process of harvesting my first commissioned cake.
These ancient trees are the source of my 3 batchs of private commissions. (Surrounding these group of old trees are old camphor trees, for shading and to prevent pest.)