How do you brew your phoenix Dan Cong?


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

How do you brew your phoenix Dan Cong?

Postby TIM » Jan 7th, '09, 16:20

Phoenix tea is one of the most difficult tea to brew. No matter a light, medium or high fired; aged, new harvested; Ming Cong, plantation; High mountain, low river side; Rock based, or just plain red earth....etc.

So, how do you brew yours? Would it be wonderful to build a little archive for the new comers for some guide lines?

Here are some bottom lines I can throw out, and please feel free to chip in:

Leaves:
1. From which vendor, farmer, source.
2. Date of Harvest
3. Elevation
4. Soil based
5. Which area
6. Kind. eg: Wudong, cinnamon, honey, almond, orchid....etc
7. Fired level
8. Bush age
9. Grade
10. breathing tea before brewing

Brewing vessel, water:
1. Water source
2. Aged or fresh
3. How you boil your water
4. Temp. for the first 5 steeping
5. What kind of brewing vessel, eg: Aged yixing, what clay, size, shape. Giawan or tea bowl?
6. What kind of cup to drink from, eg: wide mouth, lotus cup, how old, what material....

Brewing Parameter:
Amount of leaves. Rinse time, set time, infusing time, Height of water pouring, hitting spots.... etc

Result of the brew:
Color, aroma, texture, mouth feel and effects of the brew, how many brews?

Weather:
Drinking time of the day, High/low humidity, rainy or sunny?

Brewer experience:

Here is what I had recently:
Image
Image

Leaves:
1. From which vendor, farmer, source: Man klan in Phoenix
2. Date of Harvest: 2005
3. Elevation: 1500m West
4. Soil based: Rock
5. Which area: Phoenix mountain range, near head.
6. Kind. eg: Wudong, cinnamon, honey, almond, orchid....etc: White leave
7. Fired level: light to medium 15%
8. Bush age: 200+yrs
9. Grade: 1st (only harvested in late April or early May) Once a year.
10. breathing tea before brewing: 3 days

Brewing vessel, water:
1. Water source: Poland Spring
2. Aged or fresh: 2 days
3. How you boil your water: Electric Water Boiler
4. Temp. for the first 5 steeping: shrimp eyes, rinse. 3 mins set for 1-5th brew.
5. What kind of brewing vessel, eg: Aged yixing, what clay, size, shape. Giawan or tea bowl? 80s yixing, wide bottom, only for light dc brewing. 120 ml.
6. What kind of cup to drink from, eg: wide mouth, lotus cup, how old, what material.... tall Japanese blue and white before WW2

Brewing Parameter:
Amount: half full
Rinse time: Flash
Set time: 30 sec
infusing time: Flash till 3rd then add 5 sec
Height of water pouring: chest level
Hitting spots: Rims around

Result of the brew:
Color: light burnt amber
Aroma: Honey, lychee, peach nectar, dry seaweed, roasted rice syrup candy, dough, little bite and stripping teeth.
Texture: almost full, clean
Mouth feel: Refreshing, awaken, sweet and floral at the back
Effects of the brew: Still a little bite, too less firing to age, cleansing.
How many brews: 8th stop, not too good for stomach....

Weather:
Drinking time of the day: Afternoon after snack
High/low humidity: 60s% hum, 40s temp
Rainy or sunny? mild with clouds

Brewer experience: 9 yrs.

Hope this is not boring.... : P
Last edited by TIM on Jan 7th, '09, 16:49, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby tenuki » Jan 7th, '09, 16:40

I put some hot water on it, wait a variable time period, then drink it.
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Postby brlarson » Jan 7th, '09, 16:42

Hi TIM.

This is a great idea. How about including including the experience of the brewer, too?

Cheers.

Bruce
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Postby TIM » Jan 7th, '09, 16:50

brlarson wrote:Hi TIM.

This is a great idea. How about including including the experience of the brewer, too?

Cheers.

Bruce


Noted : ) Thanks!
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Postby TIM » Jan 7th, '09, 16:51

tenuki wrote:I put some hot water on it, wait a variable time period, then drink it.


haha, you must be either a tea or zen master. :wink:
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Postby Bubba_tea » Jan 7th, '09, 18:01

Thanks TIM - I'll keep track of this thread and add it to the master list... :D

One helpful piece I found for us non-masters is Imen's blog:

http://tea-obsession.blogspot.com/2008/01/how-to-brew-dan-cong.html
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Postby Salsero » Jan 7th, '09, 18:10

Yes indeed, I have found Dan Cong to be the hardest tea of all to brew ... sencha comes in second, a distant second, but definitely second.
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Postby gingkoseto » Jan 7th, '09, 18:24

Ahhh! Tim your yixing pot looks very nice! And it looks like an "antique" (a recent antique maybe from 70s, but already very rare). Is there a signature under the lid? Can we take a look if there is one? :D

By the way very thorough notes! I don't think I can do it. In college I hated chemistry lab and always took poor notes :P
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Postby wyardley » Jan 7th, '09, 18:54

gingko wrote:Ahhh! Tim your yixing pot looks very nice! And it looks like an "antique" (a recent antique maybe from 70s, but already very rare). Is there a signature under the lid? Can we take a look if there is one? :D


I'll let Tim respond in terms of whether there's a lid seal on those pots, but a little background in case it's interesting to anyone....

That one is from a set of 5 (the so called wu xing (五型) sets -- see http://houdeblog.com/?p=11 for some pictures of the different shapes), and they're also the famous 'qing ying zhong guo wulong cha' (please drink Chinese oolong tea) pots, which were produced as a promotional item for the Xiamen, Fujian tea export company. Should be pretty rare -- you don't see too many of these.

Pics of the whole set are at:
http://themandarinstea.blogspot.com/200 ... aiwan.html

These pots are widely faked, so it's always difficult to tell 100% for sure whether they're genuine unless you've owned it since those days, or got it from someone else who did. The original pots were made starting in the early 70s - about 1973 according to the forum post I read. The very earliest ones were only shui ping pots, I believe all "6 cup" size (about 110 ml or so), and had one of 4 lid seals (or no seal at all). Some are hong ni, and then I think qing shui ni was also used, and later zi ni. The various early period ('73-75) ones are probably the most valuable - a genuine one can go for probably $4-700 at least. Later on, more different pots started to be made. They were made all the way up to the 90s at least. The early one also came as a set with little tea cups and a small tea boat. Some of the later ones have a standard '中國宜興' seal, but most of the older ones have either a wide or narrow 22 character seal. I've been meaning to post some seal pics, so I'll try to take some later, or you can look at the potsart thread linked from the forum post linked below.

I could be wrong and Tim might have a better idea of the age, but I would think such a set would have to be very late 70s or early-mid 80s, at least based on the information I've read.

I've been meaning to finish a translation of a Chinese language forum post about these, but it's very slow going, especially since I can't read much Chinese and will need some help. In the meantime, there's a little more information (and a link to the Chinese forum post) in this thread on my forum:
http://teadrunk.org/viewtopic.php?id=50
Last edited by wyardley on Jan 7th, '09, 22:43, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Herb_Master » Jan 7th, '09, 22:22

I like the idea but find the attribute list a bit daunting. I find it hard enough to discover the varietal name from some vendors let alone a lot of the other info.
I fear it may dissuade many from taking part who otherwise would.

Jealously I note that the Greens are now following the Pu-Erhs and having a Sticky Table of Contents type Entry with several stuck threads.

Perhaps - just an idea - several of the area, soil, altitude, climate type variables could be removed from your standard submission - and 'normal standards' for the area could be included in an alternative thread say Fenghuang Villages if it were a DanCong, then the standard submission would mention nothing unless the taster knew of a departure from the 'norm'.

Perhaps another thread for brewing methods / styles could be developed and then that part of a standard submission could be trimmed down to refer to the style used followed by temp and infusion times.

I note that you have so many attributes listed, including firing of the leaves, but not level of oxidation. Not that I find many vendors giving detailed levels of oxidation, but it is one of the factors that I am tempted to believe is significant.
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Postby TIM » Jan 7th, '09, 23:35

Herb_Master wrote:I like the idea but find the attribute list a bit daunting. I find it hard enough to discover the varietal name from some vendors let alone a lot of the other info.
I fear it may dissuade many from taking part who otherwise would.

Jealously I note that the Greens are now following the Pu-Erhs and having a Sticky Table of Contents type Entry with several stuck threads.

Perhaps - just an idea - several of the area, soil, altitude, climate type variables could be removed from your standard submission - and 'normal standards' for the area could be included in an alternative thread say Fenghuang Villages if it were a DanCong, then the standard submission would mention nothing unless the taster knew of a departure from the 'norm'.

Perhaps another thread for brewing methods / styles could be developed and then that part of a standard submission could be trimmed down to refer to the style used followed by temp and infusion times.

I note that you have so many attributes listed, including firing of the leaves, but not level of oxidation. Not that I find many vendors giving detailed levels of oxidation, but it is one of the factors that I am tempted to believe is significant.


Herb Master- Thanks for agreeing with me for this idea. Partially, this post was inspired by you and your enthusiasm on oolong from your recent posts. There are quite handful questions you'd asked in this forum, and most of them are very helpful for the Greens. But I have to disagree with you to streamline this list to be less content driven.

IMO, if a vendor, source or tea master could not provide or motive by consumer request to answer or investigate in these questions, I will then fancy a tea bag and drop some lemon in it instead. I personally think we have so much more to ask and these just might be the tip of the iceberg.

I do believe we should at least answer as much as possible and build more on top of it. I used to not understand why my DC can only brew 3 times max and die, but someone else can brew at least 30 times more? Later, I found out that's the difference between the age of the bushes. Or why is the aroma of the lychee more prominent on the first 2 steeping and drop to sweetness on the 3rd? Because most of the commercial DC is scented.... etc. If someone can understand the higher elevation harvest can provide a cleaner and more seaweed like umami in a DC, then he or she will know what they should be looking for in next year order.

Dang Cong could be one of the most difficult teas to learn about, especially for beginners. The processing in May and refined processing to finish off in Oct are very complicated and secretive to each farmers/masters. We can only learn from each others' experiences and cross notes to further educate ourselves and become smart consumers.

Firing in oolong is one of the most important processes. Oxidation only occurs mainly in aging, besides eg. Eastern Beauty for example 50-75% oxidized. If a new young DC's level of oxidation is high, it will almost be like drinking a nice young burgundy which was left open for 5 days. DC is a highly aromatic and delicate tea, if it was not properly fired, aging will be a big challenge.

Hope we can all learn from each other by breaking it down, rather than believing in blind myths or marketing mojo.
Last edited by TIM on Jan 8th, '09, 13:26, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby thanks » Jan 8th, '09, 00:11

Tim, you said most of the commercial grade DC is scented? Could you elaborate on this please?
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Postby TIM » Jan 8th, '09, 00:46

gingko wrote:Ahhh! Tim your yixing pot looks very nice! And it looks like an "antique" (a recent antique maybe from 70s, but already very rare). Is there a signature under the lid? Can we take a look if there is one? :D

By the way very thorough notes! I don't think I can do it. In college I hated chemistry lab and always took poor notes :P


Hi Gingko, here is the lid and the bottom stamps:
Image

The first mass production of these style are from 1965 ending in 1980s. I got these so I can know how the clay changes, leaving one unused for future reference.
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Postby gingkoseto » Jan 8th, '09, 09:44

Thanks Tim! And I looked at your blog, you bought all these 70s teapot! So many even at one time! You must be crazy about pots :D

I've seen this name on other pots. On this kind of shui ping, some other names are seen more. I always think these names on older pots are lovely. There isn't even biography info. for most of them. They were just workers (mostly women), not regarded as "artists", yet they made pots very carefully and seriously. Their mentors (elder workers) at that time, held high professional standards. 70s was the time when China was not a capitalism society yet and generally people at that time had very serious work ethics. Some commentators say, even though many of these pots are just made by factory workers, not as polished in craftsmanship as some artistically made pots, they just look lovely. Because at that time, when someone made a pot, she didn't label herself as an artist, didn't always think about market, price, customer preferences... They just made standard pots and were paid by the state-owned factory. For them, work was simple. It was not a great economic system but the innocence from that era is missed.

Some pots with signatures are basically same quality level as those without, maybe even made by same people. But it's lovely to have a pot made by some young girl decades ago. It's nice to feel a connection and keep wondering who she is :D
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Postby TIM » Jan 8th, '09, 13:25

thanks wrote:Tim, you said most of the commercial grade DC is scented? Could you elaborate on this please?


When you go to Tea Plantations in Taiwan or China (Fujian or Guang Dong), you will find a lot of flowering plants or fruit trees surrounding the plantations. These flowers are purposely cultivated to provide a unique scents for that area. Most of the lower grade, young bushes DC are planted in lowland near the rivers, which the intensities will be washed out due to the amount of water content in the soil. Many commercial grade 5th and up are scented by these flowers during drying process, eg: Ginger flower, Magnolia flower, almond flower, etc.... These are consider the better ways, because is still natural. Even lower grade will use aromatic/artificial to enhance the fragrant.

You can taste it if you had enough bad tea imo. The first steeping will usually overpowering fragrant and will turn to immediate bitterness after the 3rd, leaving your mouth dry and uncomfortable.
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