Where To Buy: Verdant Tea
Region: Phoenix Mountain, Guangzhou
Leaves: Our Phoenix Mountain Dancong is picked from the old tea trees higher than 1000 meters above sea level. Huang Zhi Xiang is a varietal, or subcategory within Phoenix Mountain Oolong, sometimes translated as Orange Blossom or Yellow Branch. At such high altitude, the tea trees are large, slow-growing plants covered in mist that protects them from excess sunlight, helping to produce especially sweet and complex tea.
Flavor Profile: Through the entire 20-25 steepings that we usually take this tea to, this tea yields a staggering spectrum of flavors with a complexity that can rival the depth of any fine pu’er. Early steepings have a woody base with strong notes of toast with apple butter. The apple soon yields to blueberry jam, and the body of the tea becomes sparkly with flavor and texture creating a sensation like electricity or rippling water. Chocolate and darker citrus notes enter with the woody flavor becoming a more pronounced pine base.
It seems in these middle steepings that the oolong is finally settling into itself, but then it takes a sharp turn towards darker more savory flavors. First there is the taste of buckwheat and honey, which leads into what can only be described as the graham cracker marshmallow goodness of s’mores. In very late steepings, the dark flavors start to lift like a fog leaving a tingling lime citrus flavor on the tongue and a vegetal tieguanyin-like aftertaste, and even a bit of peppery cinnamon spice.
Notes: This Dancong keeps us coming back for more. As you can see from the tasting notes, it is a true shapeshifter, taking on so many intriguing forms that it seems to throw down the challenge of drinking it again and again. While it is an incredible full-evening’s entertainment to steep this Chinese style, we have been enjoying large pots and mugs with great effect as well. One note to point out is that this is one of our only teas that requires some attention to steep time. Forget about this for 10 minutes in a pot and the grassy notes get a bit strong. The extra care needed is well worth the reward!
These leaves are very dry and very strong they are on the verge of being wiry but haven’t quite gotten there yet…if Oolong were to have a Silver Needle “leaf” this would be the equivalent minus the fuzzy/hair that is on White Silver Needle for example.
I did 3 infusions with this tea and found them all to be very different in taste.
was a VERY nice experience! The flavor was nice and even…it’s that of a sweet wood and apple. Not actual apple flavoring – but natural apple notes are what my tongue picked up! I could also taste natural citrusy notes as it cools at room temperature a bit.
Since Verdant said you can get 20-25 infusions on this tea I wanted to do at least 2 infusions as part of my infusion test – and was considering moving on to my next tea after the 2nd – but after the first sip of my second infusion I HAD to do a 3rd infusion!
Totally unexpected! The overall taste was more intense – and more strong – than the first! The notes changed and here is what I taste this time around…
It was a sweet wood and a bit grassy taste – not overly identifiable as apple like in the first infusion but I picked up something reminiscent of…peas and peppery flavor that is surprising and neat at the same time!
And for the 3rd infusion…
It wasn’t as woodsy and not nearly as grassy. It was back to being a bit fruity but not apple…maybe a little citrus tho. I could also pick up a little vegetal taste – maybe peas…but a fresh sweet pea or snow or snap pea but certainly the sweet kind!
I can’t really say which infusion I like over the others because they are so different from each other and offer completely different tastes in each.
This is certainly a FUN one…complex and QUALITY tea!