Tea Experience: Dancong Oolong Tea from Organictea Lin Farm

Tea Experience: Dancong Oolong Tea from Organictea Lin Farm

Somebody call them “Teas of Rocks”, but the proper name of these rare tea leaves coming from China is “Dancong Oolong Tea”. The legend tells us that ancient ‘Mother-tea-trees’ are still growing on the top of the mountains of the so called Phoenix city – the city of Chaozhu in the South-East China – and they are giving birth to rare big leaves with a particular aroma influenced by the strict terroir, almost made by rocks, and the sharp climate up to the clouds. Well, the tale relate to the Tea of Rocks is not too far from the reality.

Tea Experience: Dancong Oolong Tea from Organictea Lin Farm

The 4 varieties of Dancong oolong teas that Organictea Lin Farm (@Wudongtea on INSTA) sent me have the same story. (For the curios tea lovers here their names in Chinese: Mi La. Xiang, Huang Zhi Xiang, Da Wu Ye, Feng Huang Milan Xiang) They have been picked up last spring directly from the pick of Fenghuan region’s mountains (830 meters up to sea level). They all come from ancient tea plants of more than 200 years old, and they have been passing through a long process which make them special.

 

GREEN? BLACK? BLUE? WHICH COLOR ARE THEY?

Let’s start from the first approach: if you are lucky enough to get few of those leaves in your hands (yes, they are really rare and precious, especially in Europe!) the first characteristic that you will see is their length. They are extremely long and entire, not one leave is broken. Then, you will note the characteristic color, not green, not even black…but deep violet-purple. Those are the typical characteristic of oolong tea: whole big leaves rolled up and blue color (that’s why western people, especially in UK, call Oolong as ‘blue tea’).

 

These characteristics derive from a long process which conferred to Oolong teas both high quality and unique taste. After the harvest in spring the leaves are first left to dry up in a warm temperature room, then they are rolled up by hand – and in these case the hand workers have to be extremely careful to do not brake them). After this delicate passage, they are not ‘green’ leaves anymore, not ‘black’, but they are ‘half oxidized’, revealing a deep violet color with green and dark shadows: at this point we can start to define them oolong. But there is more to tell about it. There is a further step which makes these teas leaves really special: after taking a curls shape they are literally ‘backed’ into coal-fired ovens (and here we can quote Jane Pettigrew who calls them ‘backed oolong’).

This last passage it’s extremely important and will confer them the characteristic deep violet dark color and a sharp taste note. And now…well we just need to discover how they taste like!

 

Tea Experience: Dancong Oolong Tea from Organictea Lin Farm

 

HUAN ZHI XIAN TEA: LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

The Organictea Lin farm has shipped to me 4 of their Dancong oolong varieties. As you can imagine I was so excited that I wanted to try them all at once! But I had to start, random, from a first one, closing my eyes I’ve picked the Huan Zhi Xian Tea…and it was love! The HUAN ZHI XIAN tea leaves are rolled up in angel’s ringlets and they are extremely long! Only few leaves and we’ve filled our gaiwan cup. The dry leaves reveal a scent of citrus and red orange peel.

WATER

The water must be boiling at 100 degrees. (We suggest to wash them briefly pouring the boiling water of the top and then through it immediately away).

INFUSION

Then you can start with the first brewing: boil the water till 100 degree temperature and pour it on 4 grams of leaves, leave the leaves dancing freely in your gaiwan tea cup or little pot for 10 seconds, then pour the first infusion in a small cup…here our tasting notes: The citrus scent is exasperated in the cup, you can recognize a sweet note of dark honey and dry grape on the dump leaves.

TASTING

The first sip of tea will reveal you a delicate taste of cooked apples and pears, the scent on your nose will recall you an image of candy fruits. You can brew the leaves a second and a third time adding 5 second to the previous infusion. Cup after cup this fabulous tea will reveal you a deep taste of white fruits and a delicate astringency. I could not stop sipping this tea, delicate and extraordinary in aroma and character, even if the color remains clear and the after taste is weak…it seems to disappear immediately, just like snow under the sun. Magic as its legend, this tea will drive you in a unique taste experience!

 

Words and Pics by Elisa Da Rin Puppel

Find more about Organictea Lin Farm here

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