For a long time, I have avoided reviewing Dan Cong oolongs mostly out of lack of familiarity and a previous bad experience with them. I have acquired several Dan Congs over the last several months, however, and resolved myself to seriously start working my way through some of them in the immediate future. Last night my curiosity got the better of me and I ended up doing a session with this tea.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 6 seconds. I had heard that some people really pack their gaiwans for Dan Cong brewing, but that was not the way I chose to go here. My research indicated that most Dan Cong oolongs are recognized as having a slick, soapy texture that can be very divisive among tea drinkers. Not wanting a soapy, harsh brew, I stuck to the old rule of 1-1.5 grams of loose tea per fluid ounce. It worked out well. After the first infusion, I conducted a series of 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves gave off lovely aromas of honey, orchid, nuts, and grass. After the rinse, the tea’s floral aroma swelled. The first infusion allowed indistinct hints of fruit and toast to creep into the mix. In the mouth, I detected a pleasant blend of honey, nuts, grass, rye toast, and of course, orchid. There was a little fruitiness in the background, but nothing too distinctive. Subsequent infusions really heavily emphasized the honey, grass, and orchid notes, while impressions of lychee, pear, peach, mango, and apricot blossomed on the nose and palate. I also noted a fleeting sugarcane sweetness on a couple of these infusions. The later infusions were mild and rather vegetal, as the lingering aromas and flavors of grass were framed by traces of minerals, honey, lychee, peach, nuts, and orchid. Throughout the session, the tea was only mildly to moderately soapy with a thin body and a slight sharpness. It was much more drinkable and pleasant than I was expecting.
As far as assigning a numerical rating goes, I am probably going to hold off for a little while. I really enjoyed this tea, but it is very difficult for me to confidently assign a rating due to my lack of experience with teas of this type. Regardless of my inexperience, however, I do think this is a high quality tea. It went the distance in a long session, and I greatly respect it for that. It also featured a pleasant and largely complimentary blend of aromas and flavors. It may not matter all that much, but I found a lot to like here.
Flavors: Apricot, Grass, Honey, Lychee, Mango, Mineral, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Rye, Sugarcane, Toast