Dan Cong Trouble


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

Dan Cong Trouble

Postby TeaMeow » Sep 18th, '09, 18:12

Hello Folks!

I have been brewing tea(gong fu cha of many varieties etc.) for more than 15 years but am brand new to TeaChat.

Here is my dilemma: Am I the only one having great difficulty getting a satifactory cup of tea out of these old bush, single bush blah blah blah teas from TeaHabitat? I am not questioning the authenticity of the teas or trying to participate in any debates regarding syntax discrepancies, or criticizing Imen or anyone else in any way. I am just trying to make a decent cup of tea. I am looking for help from the knowledgable TeaChat community as I have already followed all of Imen's excellent advice to no avail and do not wish to bother her with any more e-mail or phone calls.

So here's the rub: I am a Dan Cong fan. I have Dan Congs from several other sources. None of them claim to be of a single or old tree and none of them are very expensive(albeit none are as beautiful in terms of leaf quality as Imen's) but all of them make for wonderful cups of tea. In fact, they are among my favorites in my entire collection. I have been brewing tea long enough to where even the finickiest of teas I am usually able to get the hang of after a few tries. But I have tried everything thing I can think of(changed water, gaiwans, pots, temperature, leaf quantity, brew time) with the 4 different old bush DCs and the 1 commercial Da Wu Ye I got from TeaHabitat with no success. Recently, I was able to try my hand at brewing some Taiwanese Ba Xian that was given to me by a reputable importer that claimed the tea was from cuttings that were transplanted in Taiwan a long time ago(I don't know how long) and that it was from a single bush. They were not offering this tea for sale as they had so little but gave me a few grams as a gift. Brewing the tea at home side by side the Ba Xian from TeaHabitat with the same equipment etc. The fragrance had some similarities yet in everyway the Taiwanese was more concentrated, consitent, and dynamic in aroma, body, and especially in texture, flavour and aftertaste. Most of all, my technique and water quality was sufficient to get comparable(although not quite as elegant) results to the importer who has been brewing for over 50 years.

According to many on these boards, as far as I can tell, Imen has the best DCs money can buy bar none so they must be having much better results than I am. Is there a learning curve or are these higher quality Dan Congs from China that much different from the more available commercial grades? Maybe my expectations are off. I am supposing that they would be more potent and flavorful and aromatic etc(as I experienced with the supposed Taiwanese varietal). Instead they are weaker all around. What am I doing wrong? Well that's the whole story...any help would be greatly appreciated.

Again, I would like to reiterate that I believe Imen is second to none in her dedication and inspiration with what she is doing. It is clear to me that she is put putting her heart into her business. I am not blaming her or her tea. She has done everything right by me. I am just looking to the tea drinking community at large to see if anyone else has had a similar experience and if they finally found how to fix the problem.
TeaMeow
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Sep 18th, '

Re: Dan Cong Trouble

Postby Herb_Master » Sep 18th, '09, 18:56

You must be the unluckiest cat in the world.

I have had several Dan Congs from Dragon Tea House, Teance, Seven Cups, and a few other places and have at times enjoyed them all.
I have found that if I oversteep them they become astringent, I have occasionally found one or two to be overperfumed for my personal tastes, but as long as I amcareful with brewing and steeping I do enjoy them.

Imen's Dan Congs however I have had almost no problems with at all, once when I got to the bottom of a bag was the only issue that I have had.

I find with Imen's that a slightly longer steeping than I intended still does not bring any astringency, just more depth of flavour, I consistently find that I appreciate Imen's Dan Congs even higher than my other suppliers, and that I need to take less care with water temperature and brewing vessel to get a very pleasant brew, fine tuning only makes it better still.

So I can't help you, you are extremely unlucky.
User avatar
Herb_Master
 
Posts: 1808
Joined: Jun 4th, '0
Location: Stockport, England

Re: Dan Cong Trouble

Postby TIM » Sep 18th, '09, 20:51

TeaMeow-please share your brewing method with us, so we could help. Parameter, weather, water, boiling pt., amount of tea, vessel, the whole nine yards. Cheers. ㅍ
User avatar
TIM
Vendor Member
 
Posts: 2042
Joined: Apr 4th, '0
Location: NYC

Re: Dan Cong Trouble

Postby TeaMeow » Sep 19th, '09, 00:36

Tim,

I have used small gaiwans(120 ml/90ml funtioning) to over 200 ml gaiwans as per Imen's suggestion in order to create the right "tumbling" effect. I have used a 110 ml Chou Zhou pot and a couple 200 ml Yixing pots. I have not been very successful with this whole tumbling thing try as I might. The DC leaves from Imen are very long. Sometimes 2 inches in length dry. So even though I have gone so far as to separate them individually and put them in the most spacious vessels I have, they cling to each other like wet noodles. So at most I can get the whole clump to flip over. I mostly boil my water in a glass kettle although I have used others in order to experiment with the spout shape to see if I could get the correct force Imen says is so vital. Water temperature has been quite hot as per Imen's instructions(3rd boil) but I have tried everything from as hot as I can get it to lower temperatures. I live in Brooklyn so the weather has ranged from hot and humid to cool and dry over the past few weeks although more on the humid side. Leaf quantity: 2-3 grams as Imen does although I have used more in large and small vessels with no difference in result which is really strange. For brew times I have followed what is advised on Imen blog but have also experimented with longer times. It is the strangest experience I have ever had with any teas including all other Dan Congs I have ever brewed. The taste(what little there is)and smell is of spent leaves even in the early brews (1st-3rd). Occasionally I get wafts of floral aroma which is beautiful but very ethereal. The color seems to be somewhat on target which is also weird. The water I am using is purified water from a gravity fed system. I have had the best results with all my other teas using this water than anything else I have tried that is available to me. I feel terrible that I am wasting such limited teas by not getting out of them what I know they can deliver. I can brew everything from the most delicate spring greens to Wu Yi, heavy roasted Tie Kuan Yins, Red Robe, Dong Ding, YanCha, Puerh of every sort, even other Dan Congs with pleasurable results. As soon as I put these TeaHabitat leaves to brew, any of them, it's as if a door closes. All I get out is floral scented, colored water. The heart is missing. Maybe if I could hear what methods you(Tim and everyone else)are using and having success with(especially anyone in my area)that might be of some use. If this has truly not happened to anyone else then it is not a matter of luck. There must be a vital parameter that is missing.
TeaMeow
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Sep 18th, '

Re: Dan Cong Trouble

Postby Maitre_Tea » Sep 19th, '09, 00:42

Dan Cong is a capricious mistress, and even for me I can't coax out its full potential. Having witnessed Imen brew first-hand, when pouring the water into the gaiwan, she pours in such a way that the water hits the side of the gaiwan before trickling down the gaiwan's walls, which prevents the teas from being "shocked" with hot water.
User avatar
Maitre_Tea
 
Posts: 803
Joined: Sep 3rd, '0
Location: Claremont,CA

Re: Dan Cong Trouble

Postby tingjunkie » Sep 19th, '09, 01:58

I'm only a newb in the world of oolongs and gongfu, but one thing that works well for me sometimes is to "acclimate" the leaves to the current weather- i.e. letting them sit out slightly uncovered in the gaiwan for 1-3 hours before brewing.

This is actually an old trick I learned when I used to smoke hookah frequently- letting the shisha (tobacco) acclimate uncovered for a couple hours can do wonders for the quality of the smoke.

Give it a try. Couldn't hurt, right?
User avatar
tingjunkie
 
Posts: 1463
Joined: Jul 8th, '0
Location: NYC

Re: Dan Cong Trouble

Postby TIM » Sep 19th, '09, 02:38

I assumed you just got these in the mail last week? And you already brew them up a couple days right after they arrived?
User avatar
TIM
Vendor Member
 
Posts: 2042
Joined: Apr 4th, '0
Location: NYC

Re: Dan Cong Trouble

Postby TeaMeow » Sep 19th, '09, 10:31

TIM wrote:TeaMeow-please share your brewing method with us, so we could help. Parameter, weather, water, boiling pt., amount of tea, vessel, the whole nine yards. Cheers. ㅍ


Did my best on this with a far too lengthy post above. Whole nine.

TIM wrote:I assumed you just got these in the mail last week? And you already brew them up a couple days right after they arrived?


I do not completely grasp the phrasing of the question but as I stated in my previous post I have had and have been working with these teas for over three weeks.

Since you live in my area Tim(same climate)I would be very interested in the method that you are using to get good results out of Imen's tea? Do you acclimatize the teas first? How about water?


Maitre_Tea: Thank you for that information. I am pouring along the sides also. Since you have seen Imen's technique first hand, what is her method for creating the "tumbling" or "leaf spinning/dancing" phenomena of legend?


tingjunkie: I do not know how much of a "newb" you are or not but I do thank you for the advice. I will try acclimatizing the tea. Thank you again.

And thank you everyone for taking the time to help me in my plight!
TeaMeow
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Sep 18th, '

Re: Dan Cong Trouble

Postby Intuit » Sep 19th, '09, 11:18

You're an experienced tea customer of many years. You've successfully brewed many other DCs, including side-by-side testing in recent weeks. You've tried all the infusion variables, you have top quality water, and you're still getting dismal results using dependable technique and brewings devices for very expensive teas.

This is a product quality / customer service issue. You need to either call or email Imen directly for brewing help and direct assistance that answers to why you are having such difficulty in obtaining satisfying result.

It's unlikely that we can help you. Go to the source, please.
Intuit
 
Posts: 981
Joined: Dec 17th, '

Re: Dan Cong Trouble

Postby Tead Off » Sep 19th, '09, 11:27

You're obviously suffering from toxicity which must be reduced in order to enjoy this very high end, expensive tea. A 7 day fast is in order combined with a high colonic 1x per day mixed with a little Lavazza espresso. :roll:

I really do sympathize with you as those teas are expensive. Good luck and hope you find the solution.
User avatar
Tead Off
Vendor Member
 
Posts: 3492
Joined: Apr 1st, '0
Location: Bangkok

Re: Dan Cong Trouble

Postby silverneedles » Sep 19th, '09, 13:01

=)
=)
LAWL :lol:
,,,
:| seriously :| :arrow: those lavazza colonics are highly effective. as proven by university clinical studies.
User avatar
silverneedles
 
Posts: 558
Joined: Feb 27th, '
Location: TX <- NY

Re: Dan Cong Trouble

Postby ABx » Sep 19th, '09, 15:50

Imen is great about giving advice. I would recommend emailing her :)

Most of the time you want to pour from high with a thin stream, which cools the water some. Imen should be able to guide you more specifically for the teas you have.

I've generally found that it's not too hard to get a decent cup, but to get outstanding results requires a fair amount of experience.
User avatar
ABx
 
Posts: 1067
Joined: Jul 7th, '0
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Dan Cong Trouble

Postby teaskeptic » Sep 19th, '09, 16:07

I've often wondered about this "pouring from high in a thin stream in order to let the water cool" idea.

Is it not equivalent to just waiting a bit and allowing the water to cool down and then pouring in a more "regular" fashion?

Also, TeaMeow, maybe you could tell us which teas in particular are troubling you? I am just breaking the ice with a couple of TH teas, and I'm sure others could compare notes with you.

I've been through this type of situation with other teas. I don't think that anyone is going to give you some special secret that you are missing in order to unlock some magical tea. Maybe you are expecting too much?
User avatar
teaskeptic
 
Posts: 140
Joined: Mar 6th, '0

Re: Dan Cong Trouble

Postby Wh&yel-appr... » Sep 19th, '09, 16:47

ABx wrote:Imen is great about giving advice. I would recommend emailing her :)

Most of the time you want to pour from high with a thin stream, which cools the water some. Imen should be able to guide you more specifically for the teas you have.

I've generally found that it's not too hard to get a decent cup, but to get outstanding results requires a fair amount of experience.


It appears the OP has already done this, as well as spoken to her via phone.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a DVD instructional video, is 2x that. I think Imen should consider making one, and charge a nominal fee and send out with any order requesting it. Put all of her blog instructional/info posts together in one package.

I'm wondering which DC's the OP has, besides the Ba Xian. Some of her teas taste pretty roasted to me, full flavored, nutty/toasty.

The orchid fragrance teas, perhaps with the exception of the 2008 Song Zhong #5; are like a ephemeral, light as a feather, thin, graceful but precise ballerina (not necessarily a 'capricious mistress' as MT says; more like a diva, former ballerina, Ms China 2003, supermodel, - Du Juan, lol). Very subtle, not unlike a white tea/Bai Hao silver needles. Whereas the SZ#5 is fuller bodied, nicely toned, but still feminine soft, sensual, more booty- to paraphrase Thi in his thread :p.

Floating Leaves, teafromtaiwan, and Stephane

SZ#5 is 2x more intense than the others.

The Jessica Alba/or Jun Ji-Hyun of the tea world, it's a beauty :)

Conversely, almost in opposite end of the spectrum; her 2004 Wild Hong Cha Tou is her favorite 'value' pick-me-up morning tea. Pretty roasted/nutty/toasty strong flavor...to my palate. Bit too strong for me---Terminator tea :p. Gives a good jot of caffeine too, after 5 or more infusions. More complex, refined, thicker...her private stash of '04 Big Dark Purple/Da Wu Zi is in that vein< both give a darker amber color to the infusion. Unfortunately I did not have any mushrooms on hand to get the effects of 'melted black pearl' that Thi's friend did.


teaskeptic wrote:I am just breaking the ice with a couple of TH teas, and I'm sure others could compare notes with you.


Which TH teas do *you* have, and why did you pick them? I might be visiting TH tomorrow, could try some of those which you have, and compare with the other's I've already had Imen taste me on. Though my opinion comes from an untrained, not so sensitive/tuned palate. Thi who wrote the LATimes article has tasted almost all of the TH teas, and he's an experienced taster/drinker.
Wh&yel-appr...
 
Posts: 138
Joined: May 11th, '

Re: Dan Cong Trouble

Postby moot » Sep 19th, '09, 21:18

TeaMeow wrote: Maybe my expectations are off. I am supposing that they would be more potent and flavorful and aromatic etc(as I experienced with the supposed Taiwanese varietal). Instead they are weaker all around. What am I doing wrong?


This may be the problematic assumption. In many (but certainly not all) teas, I find that higher grades of tea are often more delicate. This is very clear in some high mountain oolongs - cheaper ones are often one or two big flavors or aromas, more expensive ones are often more delicate, more quiet. Some might say "more refined", but that puts a value judgment on it that I'm sometimes a little uncomfortable making. A lot of times when you're paying a lot of money, what you're paying for is tea that meets a very particular, classical Chinese aesthetic, that may not be what you want out of tea at all.

Some may find this odd - that you're paying more money for less flavor. But it's no weirder than the fact that a perfect slice of halibut sashimi is far more expensive than a fried spider roll with teriyaki sauce.

Anyway: I haven't tasted the same dan congs you have, but I've definitely found Imen's high grade stuff to be slightly to distinctly more delicate than some of the commercial grade stuff. The aesthetic is more sort of... beautiful quiet flavor, in balance with aroma, in balance with texture...

Now, it sounds like you're doing all the technique properly. I kind of think you're too worried about brewing technique at this point... this tea isn't *that* hard. Here are the remaining possibilities.

1. This tea is quieter than your present sensitivities.
2. This tea is not to your taste.
3. You got a bad batch of tea.

The last is possible, but, given what I know and have gathered from the board, fairly low in probability.

Possibility 2: quite possible. Often, the fact that a tea is expensive and sought after by some won't mean it fits your aesthetic. For example: I, for instance, don't find most aged pu-erh worth paying for. Barring the occasional *extraordinary* tea, much of what you're paying for is a mellowing, smoothifying, silkifying, melding. Which I don't necessarily care about or require. I often prefer the vividness of the young stuff, which is, incidentally, much cheaper. This might just make me lucky. (Pu erh snobs would accuse me of being unrefined. Who cares? I drink my raw young rocket fuel and am happy.) (The same applies to some scotch markets, too.) On the other hand, I find that my tastes match precisely with the tastes of the market with high mountain oolong and dan cong, so I have to shell out to get what I want.

Possibility 1: quite possible. When I started drinking tea, long ago, I bought some mighty expensive white tea and it tasted like nothing to me - scented water. I blamed the vendor. I blamed my teaware. I spent a lot of time drinking white tea. When I returned to that same variety and vendor years later, I found it was a *wonder*. A deep, vibrant, luscious tea. And, when I gave it to other people, they complained: it tastes like nothing. I'm sure what happened is my sensitivities grew, I became more attuned to that variety of tea, etc. etc.

So: it might be the tea. It might be the brewing. Or it might be you. I've noticed you've spent a lot of time talking about your brewing techniques, but not much time talking about your *tasting* techniques. So, if you want to explore this direction, try the following. Wake up in the morning. Brush your teeth with something relatively clean (I like Tom's toothpaste, for low aftertaste.) Don't eat anything. Drink the tea and pay attention to it. And, drink with a friend. Ask each other what you taste. In my life, nothing has amped my sensitivities up more than tasting with a like-minded friend and talking it over. Look around for things. Take a long sip, roll it around in your mouth, close our eyes, swallow. Listen for a minute or two to how the flavors roll. Don't do anything else. No music, keep your eyes closed. I think there are many teas that I love that I grew into, by become better at focusing.

There are many times in my life when a tea has failed me. And there have been some times when I've failed the tea.

So it depends on your background. If you're a serious white tea drinker, or dig stuff like bilochun, this stuff is surely less delicate, and it's more likely that it's just not to your taste. If you're background is pu-erh and roasted teas - this stuff is more delicate, and may require a period of adjustment and attunement. Or not. (Although sometimes I need a period of attunement for a new *sort* of tea even if it's of similar delicacy to one I've liked before. Dan congs rattle around a very different part of the palate from long jians.) (I'd been drinking for 10 years and when I started drinking young sheng pu-erh, it took me *months* to open up my soul to the right part of my mouth. Same with wuyis, actually.)

-thi
Last edited by moot on Sep 19th, '09, 21:51, edited 5 times in total.
moot
 
Posts: 29
Joined: Aug 20th, '

Next

Instant Messenger

Permissions
You cannot post new topics
You cannot reply to topics
You cannot edit your posts
You cannot delete your posts
You cannot post attachments
Navigation