DragonTeaHouse Ba Xian Dan Cong


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

DragonTeaHouse Ba Xian Dan Cong

Postby Herb_Master » Dec 1st, '08, 00:26

I have been struggling for several weeks now to get the best out of some Shui Xian teas that I have purchased from a couple of sources, and cannot claim great success.

It was time for a change, so I opened my Ba Xian, and christened a new pot.
well 2 pots to be precise.

I have been enjoying tea in pots from 180-300 and decided to follow the suit of so many of you by trying something smaller. But in the days when I splashed out on 50 pots from China I did not appreciate the size of some of them so have a larger pot (just in case some friends turn up) that I will use for Ba Xian and similar Dan Congs.

Once I have consumed a small pot of Ba Xian the leaves are used to further season the larger pot.

Well I must say that I have been impressed with the Ba Xiang, 5grams in a 140ml pot (I had to break a few leaves to get them in the pot they were very long and wispy) and after a flash rinse 1 minute, then 1 minute, then 90 seconds then 3 minutes, 6 Minutes,10 minutes. All good - the bitter almond had disappeared by the 4th, and the colour got deeper for the 5th and 6th.

Advertised sources suggest a deepish yellow colour so I was somewhat disappointed with the very pale colour, BUT the aroma that hits you is immense.

Foremost is something like Rose, but the overall scent is complex with many layers of other flavours mingling in ? Tropical fruit and Spring Blossom perhaps ?

The flavour is different to all the other Oolongs that I have tried (including Snow Orchid, Honey Orchid, Wild Bush)

Light and Charming with a delicate astringency and suggestion of peach (or maybe more the Peach Kernel [lightly reminiscent of bitter almond]) with a general floral flavour that though slight lasts and lasts. Overall background suggests tea flavour (I can't think of a more apt way to describe it). Then again that Rose scent keeps poking through.

I can't say this is one that will become a regular (probably too floral for my general use) but it certainly stands up as one to ring the changes every now and then, and a purchase I am likely to repeat.

With names like Honey Orchid, Snow Orchid, Almond Blossom, I have half an idea of what the taste experience might be – But I had no idea what to expect with “8 Immortals” Nor will I when I get round to trying Colony, Oriental Red or City Walls

But with over 80 different strains of Tea Bush identified in FengHuang it is not going to be possible for me to dedicate 1 let alone 2 pots for each type.

Can anyone recommend from my list or any other Strains that I may come across which ones are likely to make the most apt bedfellows in the same pot ( I would expect to end up with 15 to 20 small pots dedicated to Dan Cong, and half that number of larger pots).

Ba Xian (8 Immortals)
Lan (orchid)
Mi (honey)
Xue Lan (snow orchid)
Mi Lan (honey orchid)
Qi Lan (rare orchid)
Zhi Lan (orchid)
Yu Lan (magnolia)
Por Tou (ginger flower)
Xing Ren (almond)
Rou Gui (cinnamon/cassia)
Gui Hua (osmanthus)
You Hua (pomelo flower)
Huang Zhi (yellow sprig)
Ao Hu Fou (orange flower)
Huang Zhi (orange blossom)
Shi Tou Huang Zhi (lion head orange blossom )
Da Yu Qi (big leech)
Da Wu Ye (big dark leaf)
Shui Xian (water sprite/narcissus)
Song (song dynasty bush)
Song Zhong (king of song dynasty bush)
Ye Fang (wild bush)
Bai Yie (white leaf)
Qun Ti (wild meadow)
Shi Gu Pin (tangerine dream)
Huang Jing (yellow leaf)
Jing Zhu (golden pearls)
(??) Jasmine
(??) Grapefruit
(??) Colony
(??) Oriental Red
(??) City-walls

Compiling a list is problematic, different sources seem to apply similar names to different descriptions, or different names to the same descriptors.

Are “mi” “lan” and “mi lan” one strain or 3 ?

Orange blossom descriptor applied to several Strains

Huang Zhi described alternately by half a dozen vendors as Yellow Twig, Yellow Branch, Yellow Bark and then confusingly by 2 other vendors as “Orange Blossom”!

Help!

Does anyone know of a complete list, or good ones to add?

I have left the word Xiang out of many of these, and presume it is never found with strains such as "Cty Walls" (Laughingly)
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Postby PolyhymnianMuse » Dec 1st, '08, 03:37

Your list looks quite extensive to me, I deff learned something from it :)

I would imagine it to get pretty complicated once you started getting into the depths of something like that. Pretty much every vendor will have
A) a tea that is the same thing that is named differently
B) something different but given the same name

You could have good luck with finding comparable or identical teas from certain strains, but even then every tea is going to be different based on type of production and other factors of individual harvests.

I don't think I really made any points or included any help in this post, just my two cents haha
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Postby wyardley » Dec 1st, '08, 04:22

I don't think you'll find the differences significant enough to necessitate another pot. Also, as you probably know, a lot of teas are mislabeled, translated differently, or are actually one tea sold as another variety, and a tea of a particular varietal may taste different depending on how it's processed, etc. So I wouldn't spend a lot of time trying to split your pots between different types of dancong, especially at first. Maybe dedicate a pot to ones that are fairly green vs. ones which have a higher degree of roasting / oxidation, though these differences don't tend to be across quite as wide a spectrum as with some other teas. Brewing a particular tea, especially from the same general family, once or twice in a particular pot isn't going to ruin it. If you're really concerned, try the tea in a gaiwan first and see how it tastes to you.

I would suggest picking up some Dancong from Imen @ Tea Habitat [full disclosure, a friend and a fellow member of a local tea group], who has probably the best selection of these teas in the US, and maybe in the west in general. If you're serious about tracking down a lot of these varieties, she is a good place to start. She has a list of some common varietals here:

http://tea-obsession.blogspot.com/2008/ ... aming.html

I have never heard of just 'mi' or 'lan', though that doesn't mean it doesn't exist, however it's interesting to note that she lists both:
蜜蘭香 mì lán xiāng (honey orchid fragrance; mi is 4th tone)
米蘭香 mǐ lán xiāng (milan flower fragrance; mi is 3rd tone)
always good to keep in mind that just because the name in pinyin (especially if the tone isn't given) is the same or similar doesn't mean that the character is the same.

The other Will (xuancheng on here) translated some more names from a list that looks similar to yours:
http://amateursdethechinois.blogspot.co ... names.html
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Postby xuancheng » Dec 1st, '08, 07:41

What I find helpful when trying to get my head around Dancong names, is that some people group them into "fragrance types" many of the single bush names will fall into one of about 10 fragrance types or categories. Often these bushes are somehow related. (One is a mother bush, some others are its offspring)

It is also very confusing because Dancongs are often mis-labeled or labeled carelessly. There are lots of "Song zhong" bushes, they usually have a number or something else appended at the end.

Also you often get qizhong which is a new bush grown from seed, not cloned so it has new genetic material (or a new mix of old genetic material.) These qizhong may or may not be very good, and just because you or I haven't heard of it before doesn't mean it's not a legitimate name.

We really need a board of standards for Chinese tea names, because it gets really confusing.

Huangzhi in Chinese is a sort of Gardenia. I have also seen the translations you mention Orange branch, yellow twig. I am not sure what is meant by that.

Also Zhilan 芝兰 does not seem to be the name of an orchid. In my dictionary the definition "1. The glossy ganoderma and the fragrant thoroughwort -- both of them are fragrant herbs. 2. (figuratively) a virtuous behaviour

I think that your Shi Gu Pin[g] (tangerine dream) is the name of a village in which dancong is grown and not a varietal.
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Postby Bubba_tea » Dec 3rd, '08, 14:27

wyardley wrote:蜜蘭香 mì lán xiāng (honey orchid fragrance; mi is 4th tone)
米蘭香 mǐ lán xiāng (milan flower fragrance; mi is 3rd tone)


That's fun - honey orchid vs. rice orchid? I wonder what a rice orchid tastes like! :lol:

Seriously though, what's the deal with the various flavors? Is it purely from processing, or a combination of location and processing? I assume that they don't add flavors to achieve the various flavors...
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Postby Janine » Dec 3rd, '08, 15:24

I was at a Tea event at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum. Winnie Yu of Teance was offering some phoenix oolong of a honey variety. She told me there are over 40 different phoenix types grouped by flavoring.
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Postby Herb_Master » Dec 7th, '08, 15:42

xuancheng wrote:What I find helpful when trying to get my head around Dancong names, is that some people group them into "fragrance types" many of the single bush names will fall into one of about 10 fragrance types or categories. Often these bushes are somehow related. (One is a mother bush, some others are its offspring)

It is also very confusing because Dancongs are often mis-labeled or labeled carelessly. There are lots of "Song zhong" bushes, they usually have a number or something else appended at the end.

Also you often get qizhong which is a new bush grown from seed, not cloned so it has new genetic material (or a new mix of old genetic material.) These qizhong may or may not be very good, and just because you or I haven't heard of it before doesn't mean it's not a legitimate name.

We really need a board of standards for Chinese tea names, because it gets really confusing.

Huangzhi in Chinese is a sort of Gardenia. I have also seen the translations you mention Orange branch, yellow twig. I am not sure what is meant by that.

Also Zhilan 芝兰 does not seem to be the name of an orchid. In my dictionary the definition "1. The glossy ganoderma and the fragrant thoroughwort -- both of them are fragrant herbs. 2. (figuratively) a virtuous behaviour

I think that your Shi Gu Pin[g] (tangerine dream) is the name of a village in which dancong is grown and not a varietal.










Thank you for your words of assistance (and other posters) I have been researching and the task is endless!

1. Thanks to you and other posters I have already started arranging my intentions round fragrance types - I currently have 8 Planned with several unidentified Varietals to join them or place in additional fragrance types.
a)
Orange flower fragrance type
Huang Zhi (yellow sprig)
Ao Hu Fou (orange flower)
Huang Zhi (orange blossom)
Shi Tou Huang Zhi (lion head orange blossom )
Shi Gu Pin (tangerine dream)

b)
Orchid flower fragrance type
Mi Lan (honey orchid)
Lan (orchid)- Mi (honey)
Xue Lan (snow orchid)
Qi Lan (rare orchid)
Zhi Lan (Fragrant Orchid) ? - ?
Honey orchid fragrance type
1. ?? Honey Orchid fragrance
2. ?? White leaf dancong
3. ?? Fragrant sweet potato

c)
Herbal fragrance type
Ba Xian (8 Immortals)
herbal fragrance type (literally,the glossy ganoderma and the fragrant thoroughwort fragrance type)
1. ?? Eight immortals
2. ?? Song variety herbal fragrance
3. ?? Bamboo leaf
4. ??? Chicken cage
5. ??? Herbal fragrance

d)
Almond fragrance type
Xing Ren (almond)
1. ??? Saw cut seed
2. ??? Almond fragrance

e)
Ginger flower fragrance type
Por Tou (ginger flower)
You Hua (pomelo flower)
1. ?? Pomelo leaf
2. ??? Waxberry Leaf
3. ??? Ginger root fragrance
4. ??? Fiery spice tea

f)
Gardenia fragrance type
1. ?? Song variety gardenia fragrance
2. ?? Song variety yellow tea fragrance
3. ?? Large White Leaf
4. ?? Yellow tea fragrance
5. ?? Old fey gaffer
6. ?? Song variety No. 2
7. ?? Always fine variety
8. ?? palm frond coir clasped under the arm
9. ?? Special selection gardenia fragrance


g)
Rou Gui and ??
1. Rou Gui
2. ??
3. ??
4. ??
5. ??
6. ??
7. ??
8. ??
9. ??

h)
Wild Bushes Old Bushes or with a Big in the name

Da Yu Qi (big leech)
Da Wu Ye (big dark leaf)
Song (song dynasty bush)
Song Zhong (king of song dynasty bush)
Ye Fang (wild bush)

- This last group is one I have invented - I already have Ye Fang and am about to try it and am leaning towards one of the da's as my next purchase - should they be in a different group

unallocated
Qun Ti (wild meadow) - possibly herbal fragrance
Bai Yie (white leaf)
Shi Gu Pin (tangerine dream)
Huang Jing (yellow leaf) - should I group anything yellow - with Yellow twig under Orange Fragrance?
?? (yellow branch)
?? (yellow bark)
Jing Zhu (golden pearls)
(??) Jasmine
(??) Grapefruit - this I believe is to be grouped with Pomelo which resides in the Ginger Flower Fragrance group - Grapefruit and Ginger don't seem similar to me?

(??) Colony
(??) Oriental Red
(??) City-walls


2. I agree sometimes you can tell from the quality of a vendor's other words that you can not trust what you are reading, but at other times it is very hard to tell!

3. Thanks for these words, I had more or less come to this conclusion, from a reliable source a new varietal that is highly praised is one worth trying - but other sources may just be mis-labelling or being creative!

4. I have come across several vendors selling Zi Lan as an 'Orchid' varietal - I shall have to do some more research on this one - perhaps they are all copying from one original misquote. Although one of the sources was by a blogger highlty respected by many on this forum
http://tea-obsession.blogspot.com/2007/09/drunk.html

5. The Tanagerine Dream - was one that I found here
www.imperialteas.co.uk
Are they inventing the name, or have they found one you do not yet know?
They also sell a
Song Zhong Wang, which means 'King of Song Dynasty Kind'
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Postby Herb_Master » Dec 7th, '08, 15:55

wyardley wrote:I don't think you'll find the differences significant enough to necessitate another pot. Also, as you probably know, a lot of teas are mislabeled, translated differently, or are actually one tea sold as another variety, and a tea of a particular varietal may taste different depending on how it's processed, etc. So I wouldn't spend a lot of time trying to split your pots between different types of dancong, especially at first. Maybe dedicate a pot to ones that are fairly green vs. ones which have a higher degree of roasting / oxidation, though these differences don't tend to be across quite as wide a spectrum as with some other teas. Brewing a particular tea, especially from the same general family, once or twice in a particular pot isn't going to ruin it. If you're really concerned, try the tea in a gaiwan first and see how it tastes to you.

I would suggest picking up some Dancong from Imen @ Tea Habitat [full disclosure, a friend and a fellow member of a local tea group], who has probably the best selection of these teas in the US, and maybe in the west in general. If you're serious about tracking down a lot of these varieties, she is a good place to start. She has a list of some common varietals here:

http://tea-obsession.blogspot.com/2008/ ... aming.html

I have never heard of just 'mi' or 'lan', though that doesn't mean it doesn't exist, however it's interesting to note that she lists both:
蜜蘭香 mì lán xiāng (honey orchid fragrance; mi is 4th tone)
米蘭香 mǐ lán xiāng (milan flower fragrance; mi is 3rd tone)
always good to keep in mind that just because the name in pinyin (especially if the tone isn't given) is the same or similar doesn't mean that the character is the same.

The other Will (xuancheng on here) translated some more names from a list that looks similar to yours:
http://amateursdethechinois.blogspot.co ... names.html


Thanks this has been helpful, I had visited Tea Obsession before and have been back since.

Thanks Again - I have been to AmateursdeTheChinois - and adjusted my lists slightly and started to use his fragrance groups - oops it is xuancheng I have just replied to him and did not realise it was the same person.

The intonations on mi lan is something I had not realised and explains a few issues for me, I have come across things like 3rd tone and 4th tone and not had a clue what they were talking about - Now I see a little light.

As for your point on seperating pots for low and high roasting ! mmmmn! It is one I had considered but I have gone for Fragrance groups.

The issue of (for any oolong Wuyi, Anxi or FengHuan) of separate pots for Roasting styles is one that has tormented me on a number of occasions. But as a relative novice I am keener (at the moment) to explore different varietals at the expense of learning more about different seasons, different oxidation levels or different roasting styles.

I ams till yet to learn if 25% oxidised leaves are given the Full Roasting, or whether Full Roasts are reserved for 75% Oxidised leaves and how the different seasonal plucks get treated - aargh a lot of knowledge to acquire!
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Postby Herb_Master » Dec 7th, '08, 15:58

Bubba_tea wrote:
wyardley wrote:蜜蘭香 mì lán xiāng (honey orchid fragrance; mi is 4th tone)
米蘭香 mǐ lán xiāng (milan flower fragrance; mi is 3rd tone)


That's fun - honey orchid vs. rice orchid? I wonder what a rice orchid tastes like! :lol:

Seriously though, what's the deal with the various flavors? Is it purely from processing, or a combination of location and processing? I assume that they don't add flavors to achieve the various flavors...


I too am intrigued by Rice Orchid

The flavours are not added, tea produced from the different varietals give the locals a scent which is reminiscent of the name they ascribe to the varietal.
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Postby Herb_Master » Dec 7th, '08, 16:04

PolyhymnianMuse wrote:Your list looks quite extensive to me, I deff learned something from it :)

I would imagine it to get pretty complicated once you started getting into the depths of something like that. Pretty much every vendor will have
A) a tea that is the same thing that is named differently
B) something different but given the same name

You could have good luck with finding comparable or identical teas from certain strains, but even then every tea is going to be different based on type of production and other factors of individual harvests.

I don't think I really made any points or included any help in this post, just my two cents haha


I enjoyed reading your reply - it does not matter overly if the same varietal from different sources is too different - part of my hobby is collecting teapots not just drinking oolong - so all I really need is a peg to hang my teas on rather than some idealistic view that the tea will perform best in a pot that has brewed the same type of tea before.

Indeed part of the hype about Yixing Teapots is that after 30 years drinking the same tea from the same pot ! What!! I am here to explore hundreds of different teas!
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Postby Herb_Master » Dec 7th, '08, 16:05

Janine wrote:I was at a Tea event at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum. Winnie Yu of Teance was offering some phoenix oolong of a honey variety. She told me there are over 40 different phoenix types grouped by flavoring.



Many of the sources I read claim there are over 80 recognised varietals, and as xuanchang points out above, R&D is adding newones to the list.
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Postby towerofdabble » Dec 11th, '08, 12:52

Well I must say that I have been impressed with the Ba Xiang, 5grams in a 140ml pot (I had to break a few leaves to get them in the pot they were very long and wispy) and after a flash rinse 1 minute, then 1 minute, then 90 seconds then 3 minutes, 6 Minutes,10 minutes. All good - the bitter almond had disappeared by the 4th, and the colour got deeper for the 5th and 6th.


Not to disagree with your approach, but just to share my own: in my admittedly limited experience with dancongs, I use much shorter brew times for the first 3-4 infusions: well under 30 seconds, sometimes as short as 5-10!

How do others brew their dancongs?
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Postby Salsero » Dec 11th, '08, 15:39

Often the shortest brew times possible for the first few infusions ... otherwise it can get pretty astringent.
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Postby thanks » Dec 11th, '08, 16:12

Herb Master have you thought about contributing to wikicha? Your research on various oolongs would be greatly appreciated there. I'm sure your initial research, and some fine tuning through some other members we could really have a lot of information on oolongs.
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Postby Herb_Master » Dec 11th, '08, 18:37

towerofdabble wrote:
Well I must say that I have been impressed with the Ba Xiang, 5grams in a 140ml pot (I had to break a few leaves to get them in the pot they were very long and wispy) and after a flash rinse 1 minute, then 1 minute, then 90 seconds then 3 minutes, 6 Minutes,10 minutes. All good - the bitter almond had disappeared by the 4th, and the colour got deeper for the 5th and 6th.


Not to disagree with your approach, but just to share my own: in my admittedly limited experience with dancongs, I use much shorter brew times for the first 3-4 infusions: well under 30 seconds, sometimes as short as 5-10!

How do others brew their dancongs?


I seem to have omitted from my notes why I brewed for so long, they look excessive compared to my usual steeps. I belive it is down to 3 reasons.

1. When I posted recently about Anxi Ben Shan
viewtopic.php?t=6789
Victoria and Hop both advised me to go for longer infusions.

2. I read somewhere that the people of ChaoZhou in Guangdong (or was it everyone in GaungDong) prefers to have their tea steeped really long to get a really full flavour and that unless really heavily roasted a Dan Cong will stand much longer steeping times than other Oolongs.
Alas I cannot finf my reference - but here is an interesting article about them drinking Congou
http://kepu.jsinfo.gov.cn/english/natio ... 40024.html

3. I believe following the advice from V & H I was going to try a 40-45 second starter but the Rinse water was so pale and colourless I upped it to 1 minute.


The fact that I then upped it to 90 seconds and then 3 minutes shows that I felt I was not oversteeping.

With Anxis and Wuyis I practised with 20 seconds starters (1gm to 30ml) or 10 seconds (2gm to 30 ml) and got favourable results, I don't think that would work with this dan Cong.

Note that even with these long steeps the tea was still going well on a 7th infusion.
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