I’m continuing to make progress on my mission to become more familiar with dancong oolongs. One thing I have discovered so far is that I tend to favor some of the more common, familiar dancongs, and at this point in time, Da Wu Ye might be my favorite. I was not certain how I would respond to this one considering I had previously tried only one of the other Huang Rui Guang dancong oolongs offered by Verdant Tea (the Ya Shi) and thought it was only pretty good, but yesterday was slow and I couldn’t find a reason to put off trying this one. Honestly, I found it to be a very good oolong. Like most of the dancong oolongs that I have tried, it faded pretty quickly, but more or less made up for it with a wonderfully complex mix of aromas and flavors.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 7 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was chased by 11 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes. Even though I could tell there was still a little life left in the leaves, I cut my review session off where I did because it was getting late. As a side note, I find that I prefer dancong a little lighter and less astringent than many traditionalists, so I do not use quite as much loose tea per session. I have heard of people who brew in the chao zhou style using at least 9-10 grams of loose leaves per 4 fluid ounces. I find that I do not like to go over 6-7 grams unless I have a particularly delicate, subtle tea.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted pronounced floral, fruity aromas. There was definitely a prominent scent of nectarine there. After the rinse, I found aromas of orchid, orange, nectarine, and roasted almond. The first infusion introduced stronger orange and roasted almond scents. I also began to pick up on hints of lemon and osmanthus. In the mouth, the liquor immediately offered up notes of orchid, lemon, and bitter orange. I could see why Verdant mentioned neroli in their tasting note, as neroli is an essential oil produced from bitter orange blossoms. These notes gave way to subtler impressions of nectarine, peach, osmanthus, and roasted almond. Subsequent infusions introduced notes of lychee, pear, tangerine, stewed apricot, cream, brown sugar, vanilla, violet, caraway, and minerals. The roasted almond impressions were much stronger on these infusions. The later infusions mostly featured notes of minerals, roasted almond, and cream backed by lingering violet, citrus, peach, and nectarine notes. Interestingly enough, I could find some belatedly emerging vegetal notes on these infusions. They reminded me of a mix of damp hay and cattails. Verdant mentioned that this tea could be a little vegetal, even specifically mentioning an avocado note. Well, I found some vegetal notes, but avocado was certainly not one of them. Also, just thinking here, but wouldn’t avocado technically be a fruity note?
I seem to be the outlier on this tea because I liked it considerably more than the other reviewers. It’s no secret that I go crazy over intensely floral and/or fruity oolongs and this was most definitely that kind of tea. In the end, I think I can safely say that if you also happen to be a fan of such aromas and flavors, you’ll probably find plenty to like in this tea.
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Brown Sugar, Citrus, Cream, Hay, Lemon, Lychee, Mineral, Orange, Orchid, Osmanthus, Peach, Pear, Stonefruits, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet