Dan Cong Huang Zhi Xiang (单枞黄枝香), also known in English as Orange Blossom Fragrance or Yellow Gardenia Flower Fragrance, is an excellent example of a Phoenix Oolong from Guangdong Province in Southern China. It comes from the Phoenix Mountain area near Chaozhou City (Phoenix Town) and is made from leaves picked from 30-50 year old Shui Xian cultivar trees. This Huang Zhi Xiang Oolong is noted for its aroma and flavour of orange blossom that is bittersweetly floral and reminiscent of gardenia flowers. This particular batch was picked in April 2020.
Dan Cong (单枞) is the general term that is used to refer to oolongs that come from Guangdong and specifically from Phoenix Mountain. Dan Cong literally means ‘single bush’ as traditionally these oolongs were all picked only from single semi-wild trees. It has now become the generic term to cover all Phoenix Mountain (Fenghuang Shan 凤凰山) and sometimes other Guangdong oolongs. Dan Cong oolongs are noted for their ability to imitate various flavours, be it flowers or fruits. This is a natural characteristic with no flavouring added. The apparent aroma and taste differences of Dan Cong oolongs are mostly introduced during the finishing process of each tea. The skills of the tea master are therefore paramount in how each batch of tea turns out.
Phoenix Oolong teas are very varied in style and flavour but are often sold just as ‘Phoenix Oolong’ or ‘Phoenix Dan Cong’ often not specifying the exact type of Dan Cong that it is or which area there are from. Make sure to look out for which particular Dan Cong you are buying as they all have varying characteristics and styles depending on where and how they are grown and processed.
The trees that are used to produce this tea are the Fenghuang Shuixian cultivar, which is the traditional cultivar used in this area and the common one for Dan Cong oolongs. The 30-50 year old trees are propagated from a single Dan Cong tree that is reputedly over 600 years old. Spring harvest is particularly favoured as it tends to be more floral and less astringent compared to leaves harvested during other times of the year.
The dry leaves of this Dan Cong Huang Zhi Xiang Oolong are dark and twisted producing a medium strength golden liquor. The aroma is floral, a little roasted with a scent of gardenia flowers. The taste of this tea is full of honey and exotic flower notes. The smooth flavours are sweet and floral with particular hints of orange blossom, gardenia flowers and citrus top notes. There is a lightly toasted aspect with a buttery mouthfeel. The aftertaste is long-lasting with a pleasant level of floral astringency that makes these teas particularly interesting.
This Dan Cong Huang Zhi Xiang Oolong can stand many infusions. Infuse it the western way in a tea pot at 90°C for 3 minutes 3+ times. If you are finding that your tea is turning out a little too astringent, you can reduce the brewing time or temperature until you reach your preferred taste. This tea would particularly benefit from traditional Chaozhou Gongfu style brewing.