Elevation: 900 - 1,100m
Cultivar: Dawuye – Ya Shi
Harvest Date: Last two weeks in April 2017
Phoenix Dancong is a venerated category of oolong tea produced in the Fenghuang ("Phoenix") Mountain appellation of origin in Guangdong. The region is celebrated for its mineral-rich soils and mountainous terroir, which leads the tea trees to develop layers of complexity from secondary plant compounds. Mists and fog cloak the gardens throughout the year in this humid coastal region, with lichens and mosses growing all over the rocks and tree trunks.
The term Dancong ("single trunk") refers to the style of cultivating each tea tree as a standalone single-cultivar plant. Many of the gardens in Fenghuang Mountain are planted with old tea trees and even new clones grafted onto ancient roots. One major local variety traces back 900 years and is called Songzhong ("Song dynasty type") Shuixian ("Narcissus"). It is said to be the mother stock to numerous types of sub-cultivars that have developed through selective cultivation and natural mutation over the centuries. Many of these cultivars are named after their Xiang or "aroma" type. It is said these tea trees mimic the aromas of various flowers and fruits, like Pomelo Flower, Honey and Orchids, Almond etc. Others take poetic or playful names based on farmer anecdotes and tales.
This 2017 micro-lot of the Ya Shi "Duck Shit" cultivar is grown in the high elevation Wudong Shan region within the greater Fenghuang appellation. Legend says that when farmers planted the popular Dawuye ("Big Green Leaf") cultivar in Wudong Shan, the specific plot of the mountain slope they chose had a unique yellowish soil color, reminding them of…you guessed it…duck shit. In jest they began referring to the Dawuye they planted there as the "Duck Shit" tea trees and the name stuck.
All jokes aside, this tea has a truly delicious and dynamic flavor profile that opens with notes of caramelized hazelnut and transforms into fruity notes of jackfruit, soursop, and Pink Pearl apple in the middle infusions. Hints of floral and citrusy pomelo zest and fennel fronds emerge in later infusions.
Water Temperature: 200°F
Leaf to Water Ratio: Fill gaiwan with 5 - 7 grams tea leaves
Steep Times: 1st infusion 20 seconds, 2nd infusion 30 seconds, 3rd infusion 1 minute, subsequent infusions add 15 seconds per infusion
Gaiwan Brewing from Rishi Tea on YouTube.