My exploration of Dan Cong oolongs has continued over the past several days and has included a couple of teas produced from lesser known cultivars. This Ji Long Kan was one of them. Apparently, Ji Long Kan is a rare cultivar originally produced from the hybridization of Shui Xian and at least one other unknown cultivar and is currently only grown in one village. If this tea were any indication, I can understand why this cultivar is so rare. To be honest, I found this tea to be strange, short-lived, temperamental, and somewhat unappealing. In terms of aroma and taste, it reminded me a little of a Zhangping Shui Xian and nothing else.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After rinsing, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 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 emitted aromas of pomegranate, orchid, cream, custard, and vanilla. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of cherry, violet, orange blossom, sugarcane, peach, and wood that were underscored by hints of almond. The first infusion introduced stronger almond and wood scents and aromas of plum and baked bread. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, vanilla, orchid, pomegranate, cherry, and orange blossom that quickly faded to reveal hints of wood, peach, almond, sugarcane, and violet. Subsequent infusions introduced aromas of grass, lemon, and orange zest. Sour plum, baked bread, and custard notes came out in the mouth along with stronger and more upfront almond notes and new impressions of minerals, lemon, grass, orange zest, sour apricot, and marshmallow. I also noted this odd send-off on a number of swallows that reminded me of a combination of cattail shoots, spinach, raw pumpkin, and cucumber. As the tea declined, faded, ragged notes of minerals, wood, cherry, lemon, and violet came to dominate the mouth, though they were backed by fleeting hints of almond, orchid, orange zest, cream, custard, and pumpkin before a dry, somewhat astringent finish.
Man, this was such an odd, complicated, and challenging Dan Cong oolong. The liquor it produced was sharp and tart in the mouth with an alternately soapy and muddy texture to go along with a body that was somewhat thinner than expected. It also seemed to fade rapidly, turning dry, astringent, and somewhat bitter at the end of the session. Now, with all of the above being said, a score of 60 may seem a little high for this tea, but I am rating it as such for a reason: this tea may have been a cumbersome, often unpleasant mess, but it was a truly fascinating and unpredictable mess that never allowed me to lose interest in it. Aside from some similarities in aroma, flavor, and texture to a light roasted Zhangping Shui Xian, there was nothing else to which I could compare this tea. It pretty much stood alone. In the end, I cannot wholeheartedly recommend this tea to curious Dan Cong drinkers, but I will say that anyone looking to try some rarer Dan Cong cultivars should give this tea a shot simply to understand why some rarer cultivars are not more common. And who knows? Maybe someone will read this review, go out and try this tea, and come away impressed by it.
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Astringent, Baked Bread, Bitter, Cherry, Cream, Cucumber, Custard, Fruity, Grass, Lemon, Marshmallow, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Plums, Pumpkin, Spinach, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet, Wood