Mi Lan Xiang (Honey Orchid) Phoenix Dancong Oolong Tea
Spring Mi Lan Xiang (Honey Orchid) Phoenix Dancong Oolong Tea from the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, the traditional cultivation area of Dancong Oolong teas. Due to the fine floral notrs and the pronounced honey sweetness of this particular varietal, Mi Lan Xiang Dancong is the most popular Dancong Oolong tea. For best quality, the “half-tree” tea bushes are picked only once a year in spring (beginning of April) for a short period.
For more information and illustriations please refer to the detailed product description below.
Dancong Oolong teas are kind of a “science of their own”. This applies on the hand within the wide and diverse world of pure teas. On the other hand, it applies especially within the smaller, but even more complex world of Chinese Oolong teas. Therefore, in order to describe and quality-wise position our Mi Lan Xiang Dancong Oolong Tea, we first need to shine some light on the general concept of Dancong Oolong teas.
Traditional origin regions of Oolong teas
The four traditional regions of origin of oolong teas are
- Wuyishan in the north of Fujian province, with its famous Rock Oolong Teas (also: ‘Yancha Oolong teas’). For example, these are Da Hong Pao Oolong tea, Rou Gui Oolong tea, Shui Xian Oolong tea, etc.;
- Anxi County in southern Fujian, with the not lesser famous Tie Guan Yin Oolong tea;
- Taiwan, with its numerous renowned Oolong teas and pertaining cultivars. Among these are Oriental Beauty Oolong, Four Seasons Oolong, Jin Xuan Oolong, Dong Ding Oolong, Ruan Zhi Oolong, etc.;
- the ‘Feng Huangshan’ or ‘Phoenix’ Mountains in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong. There Dancong Oolong teas have been grown and picked for more than 600 years now.
History and origin of Dancong Oolong teas
Center of the relatively large Phoenix Mountains (‘Feng Huangshan’) tea cultivation region is the mountain range’s highest peak, Mount Wudong. It locates near the town of Chaozhou, where the documented history of Dancong Oolong teas began about 600 years ago. In addition to literature references, clear evidence for this is the existence of the still productive ‘Huang Zhi Xiang’ variety Dancong mother bush of this very age.
The Dancong varieties represent an evolutionary intermediate stage of the tea tree’s spread from Yunnan into other regions of South and Central China. This marks an imaginary middle between the large-leaf, up to 20 meters high Yunnanese ancient tea tree and the small-leafed tea varieties growing in the form of bushes. As a result of this, the Dancong “half-tree bushes” combine features of both ends of the development line. Accordingly, Dancong bushes have relatively large and robust leaves and reach heights of up to 6 meters.
‘Dancong’ means “single bush”. The term goes back to a time when a Dancong Oolong as a matter of course would be picked from just one bush variety. However, in modern times economic considerations often play a decisive role especially for (mass) produced teas in the lower price segment. Accordingly, many Dancong Oolong teas on the market are blends of different cultivars. Not so our Spring Mi Lan Xiang Dancong, which is not only single-varietal, but also single-garden and single-picking.
In the old times, Dancong Oolong teas were highly valued ‘tribute teas’ at the imperial court. Back then, their best qualities were worth their weight in gold.
Types and similarities of Dancong oolong cultivars
The first existing, probably largely homogeneous Dancong Oolong tea bushes proliferated through their seeds. This caused a number of different Dancong Oolong tea varieties to develop already at an early stage. These differ in terms of taste and aroma characteristics , in the context of Dancong tea bush varieties often referred to as ‘fragrances’. Today, this fragrances remain unchanged due to the common practice of proliferating through cuttings of the bushes (“cloning”).
Tea connoisseurs distinct between at least 10 such ‘fragrances’ or Dancong oolong cultivars. Of these, the Mi Lan Xiang (= ‘Honey Orchid’ or ‘Snow Orchid’) Dancong tea bush has emerged as the most popular one. This is due to its relatively high sweetness compared to other Dancong cultivars. However, because of its resulting rareness Mi Lan Xiang is also the most expensive type of Dancong Oolong tea. Other known Dancong Oolong varieties include the Ba Xian (‘Eight Immortals’), Huang Zhi Xiang (‘gardenia fragrance’), Tong Tianxiang (‘heavenly fragrance’), Jiang Hua Xiang (‘ginger flower fragrance’), Yu Lan Xiang (‘magnolia fragrance’) and Zhi Lan Xiang (‘orchid fragrance’) varietals.
Because of the rocky grounds of Phoenix Mountain, a shared property of all Dancong Oolong teas is their mineral ‘rock tea character’. Another shared characteristic is a certain floral astringency that is significantly more pronounced than in Wuyi rock teas. The latter is something that newbies to Oolong teas might first have to get used to. However, die-hard Dancong Oolong tea lovers will consider it as both a Plus and an indispensable Must. In fact, it will turn to pronounced sweetness in the tea’s aftertaste. Accordingly, after thoroughlx exploring the complex taste on the palate, it will eventually appear as pleasant.
Our Spring Mi Lan Xiang (Honey Orchid) Phoenix Dancong
Place of Origin
Our Mi Lan Xiang Dancong comes from a natural tea garden near Chaozhou, Fenghuangshan (Phoenix Mountain), Guangdong.
Due to south China’s warm climate, tea picking takes palce quite early in spring here each year. That is, already from the beginning of April – and for a few weeks only! The picking standard for this tea is the 2-3 youngest leaves plus one bud. This represents the highest common picking standard for Dancong Oolong tea.
Heavy roasting and oxidation levels beyond the middle are just as typical for Dancong Oolong teas as they are for Wuyi oolongs. Accordingly, our Mi Lan Xiang Dancong is also processed as a strong roasted oolong tea with a beyond-medium degree of oxidation. For this, the freshly picked tea leaves first wither in the sun, then indoors for several hours. This process reduces the leaves’ moisture content by about 30%. Then, the now much smoother leaves undergo a mechanical ‘rolling’ process. This serves to break up the leaf surfaces in order to achieve the desired oxidation effect. The tea juices leaking from the leaf as a result react with air. This feature of oolong tea processing is one of the essential factors coining the characteristic taste profile of Oolong teas.
The subsequent 10-minutes roasting at about 200°C over charcoal fire stops the oxidation process and ‘fixates’ the tea leaves. Only now, the now extremely supple leaves, which at this stage have lost already more than half of their moisture content, are rolled into the characteristic long and tight, slightly curled shape. The final drying of the tea leaves at comparatively low heat in the oven (‘baking’) marks a break – or preliminary end – point of the Dancong Oolong processing cycle. At the end of the picking season, the temporarily stored tea undergoes a final sorting run. This frees the leaf material from stems and inferior leaves. After this, a final roast ultimately completes the processing cycle.
Taste and appearance
Both the dark brown to black dry tea leaves and to an even greater extent the bright shining golden cup exude a subtle, slightly flowery fragrance, reminiscent of the local wild orchids’ honey scent the Mi Lan Xiang (Honey Orchid) Phoenix Dancong Oolong tea has its name from. After infusion, the wet, open tea leaves show a solid dark green color, interrupted by brownish marks, where the leaf surfaces were broken during the typical Oolong tea processing as described above.
The broad and extremely complex flavor spectrum stretching between a slightly astringent herb-floral pole and the sweetness of the described honey flavor groups around a pronounced taste body that is characterized by mineral, earthy and nutty notes. The typical roast flavor caused by the charcoal firing is a dominant aspect in the first and – to a lower degree- the second infusion, then increasingly giving up ground in favor of the described complex floral notes and the contrasting honey aroma. Virtually all taste areas on the tongue and palate are addressed, and the long-lasting aftertaste of Spring Mi Lan Xiang (Honey Orchid) Phoenix Dancong Oolong tea makes this tea’s taste, but especially its sweetness linger long after its exposure to the taste buds.
Preparation recommendations are always a bit difficult, especially for an Oolong tea. This is because the Chinese way of preparing oolong teas widely differs from Western standards of tea preparation. However, we recommend a synthesis of the western and ritual approaches for preparing our Mi Lan Xiang Dancong Oolong. In order to get the most out of this unique type of Oolong tea, the preparation of Dancong Oolong requires special care and attention. And believe me, this tea will reward you for investing the same!
First pour 6-8g of tea leaves (if possible in a clay pot) with 200ml of water at a temperature of approx. 85-90 ° C. Then let steep for 2-3 minutes for a first infusion. After this, apply a slightly shorter infusion period time to a second infusion. Then, increasing the infusion period from steep to steep, this tea will produce several more delicious infusions. And each of these will show an individual taste profile.
25g, 50g, 100g