Impressions of a few Dan Cong/Feng Huangs


Owes its flavors to oxidation levels between green & black tea.

Impressions of a few Dan Cong/Feng Huangs

Postby Splinters » Aug 29th, '11, 11:50

I recently tried a few Dan Cong/Feng Huangs and thought I would share some quick impressions.

Tea Habitat's 2008 Gold Medallist Honey Orchid -- I took advantage of Tea Habitat's recent sale to try out this winner. The tea leaves are attractive and bear a light floral scent. For such a pricey tea, I was surprised to find quite a few twigs in the batch. But here's what matters: this is simply an excellent tea and the leaves just keep producing, cup after cup. I would describe the flavor as "pure": a honeyed floral brew that, while not overly complex, is resonant and fills the mouth. At higher temperatures, the brew takes on pu-erhish overtones. And I've never gotten so many quality cups from so few leaves. You can get tasty cups starting at very low temperatures, so the tea is cheaper than it appears.

Dragon Tea House's Bai Ye Supreme -- I've never had a Bai Ye (White Leaf), but if this tea is any indication of the general flavor, I won't be having it again. Dry and lifeless in taste and body, with high astringency at higher temperatures. No matter how I brewed, I couldn't coax anything vaguely yummy out of this. Pass.

Dragon Tea House's Almond -- At first, I was also disappointed with this tea, when it struck me that this selection needs to be brewed in the cup. And then, its value rose. Cinnamonny and lightly spiced, with a mid-flavor of, as expected, almonds. Pleasant, solid, and very sniffable -- but drink it from a cup full of leaves.

Dragon Tea House's Elegant Beauty -- This dark oolong reminds me most of TeaSpring's Beidou (North Star) #1. The leaves are nothing special. But the brew is dark, heavy, thick, and chocolately in flavor, with a deep orange color and tons of flavor. Maybe not so much elegant as resounding. Recommended.
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Re: Impressions of a few Dan Cong/Feng Huangs

Postby TIM » Aug 29th, '11, 11:55

Splinters wrote:I recently tried a few Dan Cong/Feng Huangs and thought I would share some quick impressions.

Tea Habitat's 2008 Gold Medallist Honey Orchid -- I took advantage of Tea Habitat's recent sale to try out this winner. The tea leaves are attractive and bear a light floral scent. For such a pricey tea, I was surprised to find quite a few twigs in the batch. But here's what matters: this is simply an excellent tea and the leaves just keep producing, cup after cup. I would describe the flavor as "pure": a honeyed floral brew that, while not overly complex, is resonant and fills the mouth. At higher temperatures, the brew takes on pu-erhish overtones. And I've never gotten so many quality cups from so few leaves. You can get tasty cups starting at very low temperatures, so the tea is cheaper than it appears.

Dragon Tea House's Bai Ye Supreme -- I've never had a Bai Ye (White Leaf), but if this tea is any indication of the general flavor, I won't be having it again. Dry and lifeless in taste and body, with high astringency at higher temperatures. No matter how I brewed, I couldn't coax anything vaguely yummy out of this. Pass.

Dragon Tea House's Almond -- At first, I was also disappointed with this tea, when it struck me that this selection needs to be brewed in the cup. And then, its value rose. Cinnamonny and lightly spiced, with a mid-flavor of, as expected, almonds. Pleasant, solid, and very sniffable -- but drink it from a cup full of leaves.

Dragon Tea House's Elegant Beauty -- This dark oolong reminds me most of TeaSpring's Beidou (North Star) #1. The leaves are nothing special. But the brew is dark, heavy, thick, and chocolately in flavor, with a deep orange color and tons of flavor. Maybe not so much elegant as resounding. Recommended.


Please give Bai Ye another chance. To me, its the classic of all DC from Feng Huang. Since the famous Song Cong king of Dan Cong is a Bai Ye, its is truly something special. But the real Bai Ye should not be cheap. :wink:

http://themandarinstea.blogspot.com/200 ... range.html
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Re: Impressions of a few Dan Cong/Feng Huangs

Postby David R. » Aug 29th, '11, 14:32

Can you tell us your parameters including the type of vessel used ?
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Re: Impressions of a few Dan Cong/Feng Huangs

Postby Herb_Master » Aug 29th, '11, 18:59

Thanks for posting, it is good reading.

Yes, it would be nice to hear how you brewed each of these.

I have only had Bai Ye from Hou De several years ago and thought it was excellent. The size and colour of the leaves impressed me as much as the taste :lol: I have never seen it anywhere else, I did not notice that Gordon was stocking it.

About the same time, I had Big Dark Leaf [Da Wu Ye] from Gordon [he now translates it as Big Grey Leaf :roll: ], and without any real class, I loved it. A Teachatter called 'Thanks' who was everpresent on the boards at the time thought it was apalling - he insisted on higher temperatures than me(near boiling) in a Gaiwan whereas I was using a cheap Zisha yixing and low 90s.
I loved the fuzzy fizzy element on the tongue that accompanied the flavours,so it did not put me off enjoying the flavours - 'Thanks' and others described it as bitterness.
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Re: Impressions of a few Dan Cong/Feng Huangs

Postby David R. » Aug 30th, '11, 07:17

I guess we already talked about dan cong brewing parameters somewhere but that's always interesting, isn't it ! :lol:

Some people I know who went to Guangdong told me that other there, they tend to use high leaf ratio in a gaiwan and nothing but boiling water. So I've tried it quite a few times, phoenix dan cong being my ultimate favorite type of tea, I drink some quite often.

If you have poor or even medium quality leaves from the start, this method won't be gentle. I'd say high astringency instead of bitterness cause I think like you HB I am not very sensitive to the latter.

But if you end up with very good (and often expensive) leaves, the result will be amazing. Well, this is what I have experienced, my preferences.

I have now settled down with a ratio around 7g/10cl, a thin and wide gaiwan, boiling (low on minerals) water with fruity dan cong. If money wasn't an issue at all, I would use more I guess. I tend to put fewer leaves with very floral dan cong. I don't know why, the result is just better like that.

I am in the process of raising an old yixing for these teas. I'll see in the long run. This pot is just asking for this type of wulong, despite my will to do otherwise. I have to comply. But right now, I am out of stock and I am waiting from the new dan cong from Hojo. Can't wait... :roll:
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Re: Impressions of a few Dan Cong/Feng Huangs

Postby Wh&yel-appr... » Aug 30th, '11, 23:15

Splinters wrote:I recently tried a few Dan Cong/Feng Huangs and thought I would share some quick impressions.

Tea Habitat's 2008 Gold Medallist Honey Orchid -- I took advantage of Tea Habitat's recent sale to try out this winner. You can get tasty cups starting at very low temperatures, so the tea is cheaper than it appears.

Dragon Tea House's Bai Ye Supreme -- I've never had a Bai Ye (White Leaf), Pass.


less *expensive* than it appears :p.

If you did not like the Bai Ye from DTH, but you did like the TH GM Honey Orchid, you very well might like the new 2011 Bai Ye from Imen, she has two of them (doesn't say how old the trees are) both in the 'mid' price of her expensive range :).

her blog entry for the Bai Ye 2011 tribute Gong Mi Lan ...she says it's the most ready to drink of all her new 2011
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Re: Impressions of a few Dan Cong/Feng Huangs

Postby Wh&yel-appr... » Aug 30th, '11, 23:20

TIM wrote:
Please give Bai Ye another chance. To me, its the classic of all DC from Feng Huang. Since the famous Song Cong king of Dan Cong is a Bai Ye, its is truly something special. But the real Bai Ye should not be cheap. :wink:

http://themandarinstea.blogspot.com/200 ... range.html


...so how expensive is that tea from this 728+yr old tree (and how do they come up with such an exacting age?)? Do they more heavily roast it like the 500+yr old one Hojo is selling, or is it a milder roasting?
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Re: Impressions of a few Dan Cong/Feng Huangs

Postby Herb_Master » Aug 31st, '11, 06:32

wh&yel-apprentice wrote: ...she says it's the most ready to drink of all her new 2011



I have read a few times in Tea Obsession that Imen recommends DCs need a few months and often improve with a few years.

I have on a few occasions ordered new year teas from her within a week or two of them being listed and have always found them immensely enjoyable as soon as they arrive. I have only ever noticed the slightest of changes, if any at all, when I revisit them 1, 3 or 5 months later and even 2 and 3 years later.

Her aged teas from way back, taste completely different to me from those of 3 to 4 years age. They exhibit less of what I would describe as "essential Dan Cong" character and start to exhibit a slight move towards a 'Yan Cha' type of taste experience.

I have also gone back for repeat orders of teas that I have enjoyed in previous years (same vintage, 2 or 3 years old) and on arrival, they appear to be as fresh as when I first tried them.

I wonder how Imen stores them?

Given that I store my Green Oolongs and Yan Chas in 2 different ways
Green - cool, dark, minimal exposure to any oxygen.
Yan Cha - room temperature, dark but don't bother too much about a small amount of oxygen in the pack or canister.

I sort of let my DCs sit around in a half way house
secure the foil packs as much as I can to exclude oxygen, place in a canister and leave at room temperature.

What is the best way to store DC?
1) To allow that development which is required for the first few months to bring the tea to it's best?
2) If you are purposefully intending to age the tea?

Is there any difference in the storage methods for the 2? Is time the only factor?
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Re: Impressions of a few Dan Cong/Feng Huangs

Postby David R. » Aug 31st, '11, 08:03

My best guess would be that storing method depends on the roasting. If a dan cong has very little or no roast at all, it may be better kept without oxygen or humidity. On the contrary, if it has received a stronger roasting, more like a yancha, maybe the best think would be to air them and put them in a yixing jar or such.

For many, the best dan cong are the fresh ones, but one has to drink them in June, just after the harvest, because the humidity of the raining season right after will spoil the tea. That's what the roasting is for.
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Re: Impressions of a few Dan Cong/Feng Huangs

Postby wyardley » Aug 31st, '11, 13:35

David R. wrote:My best guess would be that storing method depends on the roasting. If a dan cong has very little or no roast at all, it may be better kept without oxygen or humidity. On the contrary, if it has received a stronger roasting, more like a yancha, maybe the best think would be to air them and put them in a yixing jar or such.

I think it also depends on the taste you want to end up with. I have heard that some folks like to store them in unsealed jars for about 10 years (with little or no periodic roasting), and then seal them up after that. But I think this will give a more plummy taste.

Dancong tends to be heavily oxidized and not so roasted, compared to most yancha. In other words, don't fall into the trap of assuming that because a dancong appears dark when dry that it's always from the roast -- you need to look at the opened leaves. Dancong with too much of a roast doesn't taste that good, from the time or two I've tried it.
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Re: Impressions of a few Dan Cong/Feng Huangs

Postby Tead Off » Sep 1st, '11, 01:56

wyardley wrote:Dancong tends to be heavily oxidized and not so roasted, compared to most yancha. In other words, don't fall into the trap of assuming that because a dancong appears dark when dry that it's always from the roast -- you need to look at the opened leaves. Dancong with too much of a roast doesn't taste that good, from the time or two I've tried it.

This is also my experience.

I don't have any experience trying to age or store dancong. The little of it I have on hand from a few sellers locally, I have stored in tin cannisters for a couple of years. The good one I have is about 4-5 years old and is wonderful but I can taste no appreciable difference between now and 2 years ago. OTOH, those that are lower in quality remain lower in quality after a couple years of storage. I don't think any amount of aging is going to help them and they will probably see the garbage when I need to make room for other teas.
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Re: Impressions of a few Dan Cong/Feng Huangs

Postby David R. » Sep 1st, '11, 12:36

wyardley wrote: Dancong tends to be heavily oxidized and not so roasted, compared to most yancha. In other words, don't fall into the trap of assuming that because a dancong appears dark when dry that it's always from the roast -- you need to look at the opened leaves.


You are right. I have thought till very recently that dark brown dan cong leaves meant that there were even a slight roasting. But it was in fact only the result of oxidation, as the rinse would make disappear this color. Also, the scent of dry leaves tells rather well if there was any roasting at all.

I don't know if oxidation is always wanted though. Phoenix teas are not vacuum sealed the way TGY is. I am told that really fresh (meaning not too oxidized) dan cong is the best, but it is not easy to find (yet not impossible).

I have tasted some few years old roasted dan cong. It is really not the same than the fresh stuff. But it was not bad either.

EDIT : a pic of a 2010 non-roasted dan cong (2010 Mi Hua Xiang)
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Re: Impressions of a few Dan Cong/Feng Huangs

Postby wyardley » Sep 1st, '11, 14:51

David R. wrote:You are right. I have thought till very recently that dark brown dan cong leaves meant that there were even a slight roasting. But it was in fact only the result of oxidation, as the rinse would make disappear this color. Also, the scent of dry leaves tells rather well if there was any roasting at all.

I don't know if oxidation is always wanted though. Phoenix teas are not vacuum sealed the way TGY is. I am told that really fresh (meaning not too oxidized) dan cong is the best, but it is not easy to find (yet not impossible).

Dancong is definitely roasted (I think all oolong, including lighter styles, will have some charcoal or electric roast, with the possible exception of mainland TGY produced with the 'air conditioning' style process). But it's typically not as heavy a roast as you might think from the color of the leaves, which is all I'm trying to get across.

The oxidation we're talking about has nothing to do with freshness or post-processing oxidation. I'm talking about intentional oxidation; the oxidation created by the bruising step and before 'kill-green'. While the trend for the greener style of tieguanyin and some other styles is lower oxidation (maybe 15% or less), and even sometimes tearing off the 'red edge', traditional oolongs can be oxidized quite a bit. This is a lot of where the fruity type flavors come in. I think you can find excellent dancong that's both higher or lower oxidation, but either way, the oxidation is typically high compared to many other oolongs (which may also be why these teas can sometimes get quite astringent).

I think the reason that fenghuang and wuyi teas are less frequently vacuum sealed has quite a bit to do with not wanting to break the wiry leaves.
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Re: Impressions of a few Dan Cong/Feng Huangs

Postby TIM » Sep 1st, '11, 17:40

David R. wrote:David R - You are right. I have thought till very recently that dark brown dan cong leaves meant that there were even a slight roasting. But it was in fact only the result of oxidation, as the rinse would make disappear this color. Also, the scent of dry leaves tells rather well if there was any roasting at all.

I don't know if oxidation is always wanted though. Phoenix teas are not vacuum sealed the way TGY is. I am told that really fresh (meaning not too oxidized) dan cong is the best, but it is not easy to find (yet not impossible).

I have tasted some few years old roasted dan cong. It is really not the same than the fresh stuff. But it was not bad either.


The higher the grade the greener the DC is, just like TGY from Anxi. These are both high aroma tea, and roasting will take away those delicate favor. Roasting and oxidation is only for long storage intension. High grade DC and TGY might have under 10% of oxidation and no roasting at all.
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Re: Impressions of a few Dan Cong/Feng Huangs

Postby NOESIS » Sep 1st, '11, 18:05

What an interesting discussion. Thanks to you all for sharing your knowledge on the subject.

TIM wrote:
The higher the grade the greener the DC is, just like TGY from Anxi. These are both high aroma tea, and roasting will take away those delicate favor. Roasting and oxidation is only for long storage intension. High grade DC and TGY might have under 10% of oxidation and no roasting at all.


TIM, is this a fairly recent trend for DC (as with TGY), because of the trend for "greener" teas in general?
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