Phoenix Dan Cong Tea – History, Processing & 10 Fragrance Types

Last Updated on 08/24/2020 by Desmond

Tea originated in China, drinking tea is a part of Chinese life. Even though there were vast types of tea, and different places prefer different tastes. But among them, oolong tea is no doubt has most fans. Phoenix Dan Cong tea, a kind of famous Oolong from Chaozhou city, is becoming a trend in recent years.

In my impression, Chaozhou has the most drinking tea atmosphere in China. In the previous post(here), we’ve talked about the Chinese Gongfu Tea Culture. Which was birth in Chaoshan, tea drinking has become a part of Chaoshan people’s life at all. They even can not imagine not having tea in a day. 

One of my friends, from a traditional Chaozhou family, every day, the first thing he wakes up to do is not washing but brewing a pot of Oolong, then drink. “All our people doing like this,” he said.

What Is Phoenix Dan Cong Tea

History

There is a Phoenix village in Chaozhou city, all the teas produced from here are called phoenix tea. About 1000 years ago, only two types of tea trees grew here; one called Oolong, another called Hongyin. The tea made from the Hongyin tea tree’s fresh leaves is called Beak Tea, because of its taper looks. Later, it changed in a well-knows name Phoenix Narcissus tea, in 1956.

Phoenix Narcissus tea is close related to Phoenix Dan Cong tea. Dan Cong in Chinese means the single plant. And Phoenix Dan Cong means the tea, made from the best single plant from the Hongyin tea tree. So, in the beginning, Dan Cong referred to the grade and type of Phoenix Narcissus tea.

Later, tea masters learned agricultural technology such as grafting and vegetative propagation. They started to cultivate these best single plants in batch. After the yield growth, these teas are no longer a rarity. In the processing method, there are some differences between narcissus and Dan Cong; it makes them have different flavors and aroma. Therefore, Dan Cong independences from phoenix narcissus and become one type of Oolong tea.

Types

Typically, tea trees for making Oolong are shrub plants; and which for making Phoenix Narcissus tea is the arbor plants. At the old times, local people named each best single tea tree they found; and they gave the name at will, with their rustic local language. Like Sky-watching treeBig Bone treeBig Butterfly, and other so many baffling names. The types of Phoenix Dan Cong, also classified according to these names, more than dozens.

After batch cultivating the best single plants, the yield also grows. But various unreadable and baffling names make Phoenix Dan Cong tea hard to be promoted. Therefore, tea masters turn to classify the teas by their fragrance type. Now the Phoenix Dan Cong tea products, all with one aroma adjective in their name, like orchids fragrance and cinnamon fragrance.

Of course, even though named by the fragrance type, Phoenix Dan Cong is still classified into more than a dozen types. Fortunately, these names finally easy to understand, and the promoting problem was solved. 

But there still some tea merchants, insist on using the tea tree type to name the products and even adopt the “types+fragrance” combination. So, if you are interested in Phoenix Dan Cong tea, you don’t need to care about the type of it, each one is worth to have a try.

Feature

Appearance. All Phoenix Dan Cong tea is sold in loose tea way, and its leaves show strip shape. The surface of the leaves is glossy due to the baking drying. After brewing, they spread utterly, you can see the edge is red. That’s the saying “green leaf with a red edge” about Oolong.

Fragrance. Phoenix Dan Cong tea is honored as “the perfume in tea.” Because it not only got lots of fragrance types but a huge aroma sends when brewing. The Phoenix Dan Cong fresh leaves are rich in various aromatic substances, such as many alcohol and hemiterpenes. During the processing, tea masters would make these aromatic substances transform by temperature control, lead to creating various fragrances.

Taste. Tea lovers like to use the word “sweet return” to describe Phoenix Dan Song tea’s taste. This tea is rich in tea polyphenol and caffeine, so taste a little bitter the first sip. But soon the astringent feeling will disappear, then some sweet feeling on your tongue comes. It will stimulate more saliva secretion and solve your thirst. 

Scientists thought that maybe the tea polyphenol and caffeine just reach the right amount, making the taste buds experience the sweet taste the amino acid in tea brings.

Resistant To Brew. People usually brew oolong tea in the Gongfu tea way. One most significant feature of oolong tea is after making many infusions, it can still send aroma hugely. To the Tie Guanyin, which is an oolong tea too, it can make more than 7 infusions. And to Phoenix Dan Cong, typically can reach more than 15 rounds; some particular types even can endure repeated brewing over 20 shots.

How Phoenix Dan Cong Tea Processing

Picking

Just like most other types of tea, Phoenix Dan Cong tea was made from the tender leaves. The tea masters insist on picking the leaves in old-fashioned ways, protecting the century-old trees, and the integrity of leaves. But the hard thing is that the Phoenix Dan Cong tea trees are arbor type, it is tall, and tea masters have to use a ladder for picking. It also increases the cost.

The best picking season is spring. But due to there are various types of single plants, each of them has its own best time for picking. So all the year-round can be a harvest. Some Phoenix Dan Cong tea products are also classified according to the picking season.

Withering

The withering job of Phoenix Dan Cong needs to do twice. The first is to take sun-withering. Place the fresh leaves outdoor, evaporate the moisture in leaves preliminarily by the insolation, softer the bodies. And increase the leaves temperature, make it fermented a little. The component of leaves will have some change, to form the fragrance basic. Sun-withering also helps remove the herbaceous smell.

After sun-withering, the leaves will be taken to inhouse, a ventilate place, for indoor-withering. The purpose is to low down the leaves’ temperature and further evaporate the moisture.

Laying

Laying also called making green, is the important step of oolong tea processing. Tea masters put the leaves in a big bamboo sieve, then shaking. The leaves will crush each other, break the edge; thus, the edge part fermented speed will increase. Some juice will outflow from the broken edge and cover the leaves’ surface; it can make more taste when brewing. This laying method is called tossing.

To process Phoenix Dan Cong tea usually needs to be several tossing, and let the leaves setting for a while during the job, to make the leaves fermenting better. This processing step has high demands for the tea masters, who only can judge the fermented degree by watching. After finishing the laying job, setting the leaves for several hours, waiting for the next fixation job.

Fixation

Fixation is for stopping leaves from fermenting by heating high. Tea masters typically doing this job with a machine, frying is the traditional way. During fixation, the different temperature will make the component in tea got different transform, to create various aroma. The leaves after fixation have lower water content and softer bodies suitable for the following rolling job.

Rolling

Rolling is for shaping the leaves. In tradition, tea masters rolling the leaves with hands by continually rubbing, nowadays they will use a machine. To oolong tea, rolling except for shaping, also can let more juice outflow from the broken edge and cover the leaves’ surface.

Drying

Drying is the final step of Phoenix Dan Cong processing, the local traditional way is drying by carbon roasting. Tea masters need to pay attention to the charcoal fire during drying all the time. To avoid making the leaves get too much smoky smell by the high temperature, which will cover up the tea aroma. In modern times, tea masters also do the drying job by a machine. In this way, the cost will down, but also the flavor depth.

10 Phoenix Dan Cong Tea Fragrance Type

Although there are many types of Phoenix Dan Cong, the most accepted by people, are classified according to the fragrance. On the whole, there are 3 main types, flower, fruit, and medicine. Among them, here come 10 types that are the most popular.

1. Yellow Gardenia Fragrance

The yellow gardenia fragrance type is the most famous of Phoenix Dan Cong tea, also called Huangzhi fragrance. The oldest single plant lives over 600 years, but it has been destroyed by people. Forturnly, tea masters retained it through the vegetative propagation technology. The tea will send a strong yellow gardenia aroma when brewing, and got a so-called “mountain charm.”

2. Orchid Fragrance

This type is also called Zhilan fragrance, with a strong and lasting orchid aroma. One sub-type of it called “The Eight Immortals Crossing The Sea” was so famous. It is said that 100 years ago, a tea master found a good single plant, he broke the branch and bring it back for cultivation. As a result, only 8 plants survive. Hence, people call it “The Eight Immortals Crossing The Sea,” a story from Chinese myth, talking about 8 immortals crossing the sea successfully by casting their special magic.

3. Honey-Orchid Fragrance

The honey-orchid fragrance type is regarded as the most recommended Phoenix Dan Cong tea for the beginner. From its name, you can see, it has both the orchid aroma and honey-sweet taste; it is easy to accept. And this kind of Dan Cong ever been a mass cultivating, got a high yield and at a low price.

4. Osmanthus Fragrance

This tea name for its close aroma and taste of natural osmanthus. The tea infusion shows a golden color, with osmanthus scent and a little sweet taste.

5. Magnolia Fragrance

Although it belongs to the orchid fragrance type too, the magnolia type is different from the orchid type and honey-orchid type. The aroma of it is light, fresh, and elegant. The tea infusion shows bright yellow, light taste without bitter. Chinese poets often use the word “grace” to describe this tea.

6. Duck Shit Fragrance

I am not kidding. Duck shit fragrance is the most well-known type of Phoenix Dan Cong tea, because of its parodic name. 

The story about this name says that ever a tea master planted an awesome single plant on his loess farm, which produced high-quality and good selling tea. He was afraid that other people would grab his market share. When others ask him what type the tea is, he answered, “duck shit fragrance.”(loess looks like the duck shit) But later, others still steal the branch furtively and back to cultivate. This type of single plant has a high survival rate, so it became a trend soon.

Till to 2012, Chinese tea experts thought this name totally sucks. In fact, the aroma of the tea is closer to honeysuckle. So they decided to change its name into honeysuckle fragrance type. But until today, both the tea merchant and the consumer still called it duck shit fragrance, for fun.

7. Jasmine Fragrance

A type of Phoenix Dan Cong tea with jasmine fragrance. Even though it is an acceptable taste of all people, but one who loves the jasmine aroma, jasmine green tea, or herbal tea may be a better choice.

8. Almond Fragrance

A type of Phoenix Dan Cong tea with almond taste, also a common type.

9. Cinnamon Fragrance

The feature of cinnamon fragrance type Phoenix Dan Cong is mellow taste, and resistant to brew. It is related to its rich tea polyphenol, and fast dissolve speed. So, when making cinnamon Dan Cong, the first 1-3 infusion you can not steep too long or taste very bitter; typically, dozens of seconds is fine. By the brewing rounds growing, you can steep longer gradually.

10. Ginger Fragrance

The ginger fragrance type Phoenix Dan Cong is the more expensive and higher recognition one. The tea infusion sending a ginger aroma and show bright yellow. It tastes a little sweet, with some ginger taste, and it’s a little bit pungent.

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