I do love Phoenix oolongs from Guangdong province and I was happy to taste a different one. I explained on day 2 of this challenge what makes an oolong Dan Cong (single bush). I quite like the logic of it which is very close to the ‘single origin’ concept and it discourages blending. This tea has yet other properties that make it extra special.
Firstly, its leaves come from a cultivar whose mother tree is over 300 years old. Its age coincides with the time when Dan Cong oolong was invented. The more ancient the tea trees, the more authentic the tea (at least in my humble opinion).
Secondly, this tea was harvested in Spring 2019. The spring teas are the best as they are not exposed to a lot of sunlight. Also, the leaves and buds are the first ones to be plucked in early Spring after the longest break in the harvesting cycle of tea cultivars. Thus, while the buds and leaves remain small, they encapsulate more concentrated flavour and aroma profiles.
Thirdly, 'Mi Lan' is literally the ‘honey orchid’ fragrance and this tea offers them both although honey comes into the stage a little later. The combination of the tastes is very finely balanced.
Comparing this with Dan Cong Bai Ye Oolong I reviewed earlier (and its flavours are also defined by honey and orchid), I can say that old bush Mi Lan is more pleasant due to the stable character of its taste. Bai Ye was also fantastic but after a few steepings, I felt a little overwhelmed by its intense flavours. Perhaps, the only drawback I found in this Mi Lan oolong is the number of petioles it contains. But hey, as long as it does not take away from the fragrance and flavour, this should not really matter.
Origin: Wudong Peak, Guangdong province
Harvest time: Spring 2019
Leave colour: Dark brown/grey with reddish edges
Liquor colour: Light amber
Tea aroma: Rich floral fragrance
Tea taste: Smooth with mineral and floral notes and honey sweetness after the third steeping
Steeping/brewing: You can use around 100°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)