We had a very free format, and everyone chose a tea of their choice. We brewed them simultaneously and talked a lot about our experiences. I chose a sample of tea. The title said Dancong Oolong (Phoenix Mountain). This is what the sample package said. I have a habit of not collecting a lot of info about the tea I will drink to keep the surprise element live but also to test myself. It is really rewarding as it pushes me to learn. Therefore, with this knowledge, I brewed the tea and I found the first steeping quite thin and uncharacteristically (for oolong) mellow.
I increased the steeping time in the consecutive steepings and I found that the taste was becoming more familiar when I compared it with the previous Dancong Oolongs I tasted. By this, I mean I could taste floral and smoky notes better especially on the emptied fair cup (for some reason glass always gives me the best aromas). However, this tea was still mellower than I expected, and I was wondering why it could be.
I started to read about the tea and the info on the vendor’s website surprised me. Firstly, it was saying that this was indeed a black tea made out of Dancong leaves which is interesting but why does the packaging say oolong then? This means this tea was heavily oxidised beyond 80% which is considered the maximum for oolong teas. To be honest, in this industry I found a lot of traders who have very little info about the teas they sell. I try to escape them as fast as I can. But this is the first time I kind of feel ‘fooled’. Perhaps this was not on purpose. I like being surprised, but I prefer if it comes naturally. Secondly, the website said this tea was from Wudong Peak. Therefore, I am not sure if it is right to sell it as Phoenix Mountain Oolong. Anyway, long story short, it was a good tea but felt a little strange. Perhaps, it would have been a different experience if I knew I was drinking black tea as I would judge it differently. Now, I cannot repeat the experience as I finished 5 gr of my sample pack knowing what I am drinking.
Overall, I still stand by my principle that one does not need to know much about the tea before drinking it. In general, I think it is important to know in advance which category the tea belongs to, where it comes from and when was it harvested. And I need much more info if available post-tasting. Perhaps, I should decrease my expectations. What do you think folks?
Origin: Wudong Mountain, Guangdong province
Harvest time: Summer 2019
Leave colour: Dark brown with reddish edges
Liquor colour: Amber
Tea aroma: Floral
Tea taste: Mellow and slightly sweet with floral and smoky undernotes
Steeping/brewing: You can use around 95°C water temperature and brew for up to one minute in gongfu style or up to three minutes in Western-style. You can brew the leaves many times (until the taste is lost). To each infusion add additional time. Experiment for a result that suits your taste.
Shelf life: Up to 5 years or more (to improve shelf-life store the sealed tea leaves in a dry, ventilated place with low temperatures and away from odour)