Dan Cong Huang Zhi Xiang (单枞黄枝香), also known in English as Orange Blossom Fragrance Phoenix Oolong, is an excellent example of an oolong from an area that unfortunately does not get enough attention – Guangdong Province in Southern China. 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 plucked only from single semi-wild trees. It has now become the generic term to cover all Phoenix Mountain (Feng Huang 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 of these oolongs and no flavouring is added at all. 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. This Dan Cong Huang Zhi Xiang Oolong is noted for its Orange Blossom aroma and flavour that is sweet and highly floral, reminiscent or gardenia flowers.
Phoenix oolongs are very varied in style and flavour but are often sold just as ‘Phoenix Mountain 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.
This particular Dan Cong Huang Zhi Xiang Oolong comes from the Phoenix Mountain area near Chaozhou City (Phoenix Town) in Guangdong Province. The trees that are used to produce this tea are the Feng Huang Shui Xian cultivar, which is the traditional cultivar used in this area and the usual one for Dan Cong Oolongs. The 30-50 year old trees are propagated from a single Dan Cong tree that is over 600 years old. Plucking occurs in mid April and this Dan Cong Huang Zhi Xiang Oolong is from the 2016 harvest. 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. We have also allowed this tea to mellow for an additional year before making it available for purchase and sending it out to our subscribers. This has allowed the roasted flavours to dissipate a little, bringing out more of the sweet floral notes.
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 fantastic, it 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.
The high quality of this Dan Cong Huang Zhi Xiang Oolong means that this tea 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 Gong Fu style brewing, yielding a lot more infusions, each bursting with flavour.