The meaning of 'Dan Cong' - vendor disagreement


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Re: The meaning of 'Dan Cong' - vendor disagreement

Postby Herb_Master » Sep 15th, '09, 05:52

I have posted questions on the Mary Lou Heiss and Seven Cups blogs in an attempt to shed further light on the reality behind single bush DC and what the vendors are offering.

No reply yet from the Heiss blog, but Austin has given a diplomatic response.

http://www.sevencups.com/2009/07/2009-oolong-tea-tour-podcast-original-dan-cong-tea-bush/#comments

It appears that the Seven Cups DCs are made from leaves of the same cultivars, possibly what we would call Single Grove.
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Re: The meaning of 'Dan Cong' - vendor disagreement

Postby Oni » Sep 15th, '09, 08:21

I wanted to advertise the same movie, that podcast clearly explains things, and when I am wrong I admit it, some people hide instead.
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Re: The meaning of 'Dan Cong' - vendor disagreement

Postby OolongWang » Sep 15th, '09, 23:47

xuancheng wrote:I do think that Imen's definition of dancong is exactly correct as per the term as it relates to her the retailer and us the consumer. It is limited production fine tea from a single bush, or from a small section of clones of the same generation originally taken from one old mother bush. To say that this sort of dancong simply does not exist (no one bush can produce enough, for example) is sort of a direct attack as ABx suggested on a person like Imen who expends a lot of energy to buy these very expensive teas and retail them. It is extremely difficult to retail teas of this quality because of the cost of wholesale, and many people can't do it, or just won't because the profit is not high enough. Most of my experience with tea shops has been that the retailer sells for 3-5 times the wholesale price in quantity much greater than Imen's high grade stuff. I have run into a lot of tea merchants who refuse to admit the existence of higher quality teas than they are willing to sell.


Post deleted out of respect to Imen.
Last edited by OolongWang on Sep 18th, '09, 03:31, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The meaning of 'Dan Cong' - vendor disagreement

Postby OolongWang » Sep 16th, '09, 00:12

Herb_Master wrote:Near the end 2 seemingly venerable men were tasting some tea where the leaves looked smaller and thinner - was this aged DC or something else ?


Sorry Herb_Master, I tried to locate this particular portion of the video but couldnt find it. Certainly as far as the commentary is concern, nothing was mentioned on the quality of the tea sold throughout the video.

If you like to watch another video here is one on Lin Bugao who has won numerous awards both provincially and nationally for his fenghuang dancong tea which he has branded. The interview with the 2 persons including Lin himself is conducted in the Chaozhou dialect, so if you wish to know how the Chaozhou dialect sounds like, this is it!

Here is the link:

http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/l-CAwXP6UCs/
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. :lol:
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Re: The meaning of 'Dan Cong' - vendor disagreement

Postby Salsero » Sep 16th, '09, 00:30

OolongWang wrote: The key to the whole question is the supply side of the equation, not the demand side.
This certainly sounds consistent with what I have heard and read about tea in China. At some points of the distribution channel, getting access to the best tea seems often to have more to do with who you know than with how much you pay. In English, that is suggested in the movie "All In This Tea," but our internet distribution system seems also to bear lots of evidence: Stephen, Nada, Scott, Kam, and Sebastien all appear to be living proof of this.

Thanks for this provocative line of thinking, OolongWang.
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Re: The meaning of 'Dan Cong' - vendor disagreement

Postby Maitre_Tea » Sep 16th, '09, 00:39

Salsero wrote:
OolongWang wrote: The key to the whole question is the supply side of the equation, not the demand side.
This certainly sounds consistent with what I have heard and read about tea in China. At some points of the distribution channel, getting access to the best tea seems often to have more to do with who you know than with how much you pay. In English, that is suggested in the movie "All In This Tea," but our internet distribution system seems also to bear lots of evidence: Stephen, Nada, Scott, Kam, and Sebastien all appear to be living proof of this.

Thanks for this provocative line of thinking, OolongWang.


I think that in following with Sal's line of logic, Imen seems to be an unique case when you're comparing the vendors you mention. Granted, she was able to travel extensively before she had a store-front, but it makes it even more amazing (IMO) that she's able to have access to all these goods without visiting the area regularly in recent years.
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Re: The meaning of 'Dan Cong' - vendor disagreement

Postby Salsero » Sep 16th, '09, 01:01

Maitre_Tea wrote:... Imen seems to be an unique case when you're comparing the vendors you mention. Granted, she was able to travel extensively before she had a store-front, but it makes it even more amazing (IMO) that she's able to have access to all these goods without visiting the area regularly in recent years.
I am assuming that Imen's connection is the candyman in this case, not her. She may know the area, but she would have to have a solid relationship with someone on the inside. ... that is, if this whole elaborate idea is true. :lol: It's starting to sound a little too much like a dime novel.
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Re: The meaning of 'Dan Cong' - vendor disagreement

Postby Maitre_Tea » Sep 16th, '09, 01:24

Salsero wrote:
Maitre_Tea wrote:... Imen seems to be an unique case when you're comparing the vendors you mention. Granted, she was able to travel extensively before she had a store-front, but it makes it even more amazing (IMO) that she's able to have access to all these goods without visiting the area regularly in recent years.
I am assuming that Imen's connection is the candyman in this case, not her. She may know the area, but she would have to have a solid relationship with someone on the inside. ... that is, if this whole elaborate idea is true. :lol: It's starting to sound a little too much like a dime novel.


Well, I like to think that life is stranger than fiction. Of course, one must remember that her supplier = her tea master, so it's probably someone very well known. When I had a tea tasting with Imen I actually asked who her tea master was, and she was quite coquettish about it...she only gave me the last name.

This whole issue has got me wondering which DC are "authentic" single-bush and which ones are the regular commercial kind. I've seen some pretty pricey DC from other stores that can be comparable to Imen's mid-priced single-bush. At the risk of sounding like some crazy loyalist, maybe I should source all my DC from Imen
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Re: The meaning of 'Dan Cong' - vendor disagreement

Postby Tead Off » Sep 16th, '09, 03:03

OolongWang wrote:I have concluded after some days on the internet reading about fenghuang dancong that Imen is right, these teas do exist and that she sells them. However, if you ask her to show proof you would be putting her in a difficult position as it would reveal her source of supply which would be against her commercial interest.


This has been a fascinating thread to follow. Imen doesn't need to show proof because the tea she sells is obviously superior in quality to most everyone else. But, even if she did supply proof, I don't think that would change the supply side dynamics. Almost everything that happens in Asia is through contacts. In most cases, you cannot change the relationships by waving money and another buyer would find it hard pressed to find the quality and the availability at the top. Many harvests are sold out before they are even picked. If the seller wants more money, they only have to ask their current buyers for more. Where else can they go? I'd bet money if you knew her source, you couldn't buy from them commercially. Just not enough leaf to go around.

OolongWang wrote:The key to the whole question is the supply side of the equation, not the demand side. The writer above says that the cost of production would render these teas prohibitive in terms of price. If we assume that there is a market for these teas at whatever prices, how does one assure a supply that is both reliable and consistent? Can a tea shop in say San Francisco if it decides that it also wants to offer the same teas that Imen sell in their shop obtain a supply? I believe not. If we look at the video the link of which I have posted earlier, even assuming that it was stage-managed, it still shows us that production and cultivation of tea in the fenghuang mountain area is in private hands and that marketing is done not through a state corporation (as we would assume in a communist state) but through various small family households scattered throughout the mountain area. In other words, production and marketing is extremely fragmented. There maybe a few hundred families involved in the cultivation and production of these teas, each specializing in one or more particular specie of dancong. Given this scenario, how does Imen assure herself that she will get the tea she is ordering? Lets say she orders top grade milan xiang, how does she know she wont get ordinary shui xian instead? Even if she were to station a trustworthy relative there, does this relative have the knowledge and ability to appraise the tea? It is really a jungle out there as the video shows. My belief is that there is somebody there on the ground in the mountain area who is doing the leg work, knows the area because he is born and grew up there, knows the cultivation and production of dan cong from top to bottom and more importantly is able to appraise the dan cong that he buys to supply to Imen. He may even be involved in dan cong cultivation himself. Believe it or not there are not many people in China who have these qualifications since you would need to be a local, have some level of education to be an appraiser especially in a specialized area of oolong like dan cong and also have some sort of name in tea circles. Owing to bits of information given out here and there, I believe I have a fairly good idea of who this person is but not wishing to harm anybody's commercial interest it is best not to say anything more.

Suffice to say that those of you who are Imen's customers because you live in LA are the lucky people who are tasting teas that very few people even in China have drunk; some of these teas may even be grown organically. Even if you were to go to Chaozhou or Shantou yourself, it would be quite impossible to buy these teas. Of course you pay for what you get, but you have a choice which those of us ordinary mortals dont have because we do not live in LA.


I agree with many of your assumptions. But, you don't have to live in L.A. to get Imen's teas. You can mail order,no? Plus, there are other sources for this high grade Dancong in Asia. I drank some great dancong in Hong Kong last trip, also very expensive. Where do you live?
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Re: The meaning of 'Dan Cong' - vendor disagreement

Postby Herb_Master » Sep 16th, '09, 06:11

OolongWang wrote:
If you like to watch another video here is one on Lin Bugao who has won numerous awards both provincially and nationally for his fenghuang dancong tea which he has branded. The interview with the 2 persons including Lin himself is conducted in the Chaozhou dialect, so if you wish to know how the Chaozhou dialect sounds like, this is it!

Here is the link:

http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/l-CAwXP6UCs/
.
. :lol:


Thanks, a little more reliant on the words than on the pictures but still good viewing.

This video may have punctured a few of my conceptions :D

I had assumed in my mind, moving down from Single Bush to Single Grove, an Orchard like looking plot of spaced out stately looking trees, but here we see plantations looking very like those for black tea which are cropped many times a year.

Do the words reveal how old the bushes are? how many times a year they are cropped? are the plantations full of clones, or simply the same cultivar?
Whatever they are, Lin Bugao is winning lots of awards! but are they awards within a certain class of tea, economy or mass market priced teas? ("branded" :!: )

Thanks for the link, the number of shots of people handling the tea and almost burying their noses in it, reminds me to pay better attention to my initial rinse (which with higher quality teas I tend to ignore and just brush the surface froth off :lol: )
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Re: The meaning of 'Dan Cong' - vendor disagreement

Postby Herb_Master » Sep 16th, '09, 06:43

OolongWang wrote:
Herb_Master wrote:Near the end 2 seemingly venerable men were tasting some tea where the leaves looked smaller and thinner - was this aged DC or something else ?


Sorry Herb_Master, I tried to locate this particular portion of the video but couldnt find it. Certainly as far as the commentary is concern, nothing was mentioned on the quality of the tea sold throughout the video.



It is not important, reviewing I think I may have been merging in my mind images of the tea being drunk in part 5 which seems to have a lot darker tea liquor than the earlier shots, with the tea being handled in part 5 in which the leaf seemed smaller, thinner and less whole.

But reviewing after your transcription certain scenes leap into life. Particular poignant are the shots of the old man after his son has sold his best tea. I appreciate the scene where he seeks solace from a cigarette :D

Later on does the son get admonished for his values? Then slam his chopsticks down on the table and leave the room :lol:

Should we feel guilty trying to buy the best teas? Surely those who make the tea would appreciate it more than we can!
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Re: The meaning of 'Dan Cong' - vendor disagreement

Postby OolongWang » Sep 16th, '09, 22:05

Salsero wrote: I am assuming that Imen's connection is the candyman in this case, not her. She may know the area, but she would have to have a solid relationship with someone on the inside. ... that is, if this whole elaborate idea is true. :lol: It's starting to sound a little too much like a dime novel.


Post deleted out of respect to Imen.
Last edited by OolongWang on Sep 18th, '09, 03:33, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The meaning of 'Dan Cong' - vendor disagreement

Postby OolongWang » Sep 16th, '09, 22:33

Tead Off wrote:This has been a fascinating thread to follow. Imen doesn't need to show proof because the tea she sells is obviously superior in quality to most everyone else. But, even if she did supply proof, I don't think that would change the supply side dynamics. Almost everything that happens in Asia is through contacts. In most cases, you cannot change the relationships by waving money and another buyer would find it hard pressed to find the quality and the availability at the top.


You are talking about Chinese people 100 years ago. There has been some changes to their economic and social development since that time. Nowadays after the reforms its 向钱看 which means something like looking at the direction of the money.


I agree with many of your assumptions. But, you don't have to live in L.A. to get Imen's teas. You can mail order,no? Plus, there are other sources for this high grade Dancong in Asia. I drank some great dancong in Hong Kong last trip, also very expensive. Where do you live?


I am not comfortable paying this amount of money for tea which is not brewed before me, not that I dont trust the vendor but it is the case I am lousy at brewing tea and very often the same tea which I have tasted at the shop doesnt taste the same at home. I can never bring out the aroma which I have smelt and tasted in the shop. Please recommend some places where I can taste the great dancong you did in HK. Me, I am from the lion city. Do you know any HK vendors that sell online? I shall be in Xiamen next month and am trying to find out the dates of the tea fair they are having in October. There is another fair in Shenzhen in December which should be a better time to have tea but it would probably be too much for me.
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Re: The meaning of 'Dan Cong' - vendor disagreement

Postby OolongWang » Sep 16th, '09, 22:56

Herb_Master wrote:
Do the words reveal how old the bushes are? how many times a year they are cropped? are the plantations full of clones, or simply the same cultivar?
Whatever they are, Lin Bugao is winning lots of awards! but are they awards within a certain class of tea, economy or mass market priced teas? ("branded" :!: )


My impression is that it is for the mass market. I tried to listen for the name of the brand but didnt get it.
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Re: The meaning of 'Dan Cong' - vendor disagreement

Postby OolongWang » Sep 16th, '09, 23:10

Herb_Master wrote:But reviewing after your transcription certain scenes leap into life. Particular poignant are the shots of the old man after his son has sold his best tea. I appreciate the scene where he seeks solace from a cigarette :D

Later on does the son get admonished for his values? Then slam his chopsticks down on the table and leave the room :lol:

Should we feel guilty trying to buy the best teas? Surely those who make the tea would appreciate it more than we can!


You are right! The scene was very touching. After the buyers leave, there is this scene of the father looking out of the window into the rain, shot from a distance. The son comes back into the house after seeing the buyers off. He then joins the father, offers him a cup of tea which the father accepts and then lights him a cigarette which the father also accepts. The father then returns the empty cup to the son who then leaves. From the distance it is difficult to see if they spoke but no words are necessary because the actions of the two men speak for themselves. The son knows the father is unhappy but the father also accepts that the son has his own point of view so they make peace. Reminds me of the French New Wave cinema of the 60's!

I dont think we should feel guilty. Remember the story about the man who loves pets so he sets up a pet shop but never sells anything because he becomes too emotionally attached to the pets he sells? Something like that.

If you like videos on tea I shall try to post some more but not here because we are out of topic. I am surprised I have not been told off yet by the moderator!
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