Fenghuang dancong is a type of Oolong tea from Guangdong Province, one of the very few tea varieties from the region. It grows on Fenghuang Mountain in Chaozhou City. The region has mild and humid climate. Fenghuang danzong can be found in parts of the mountain 1000 meters above sea level.
The tea leaves are large and stalky. The color is that of a dark brown with a slight hint of red. Once brewed, the liquid is a clear golden color. The aroma evokes the fragrance of orchids. The taste and texture are earthy and smooth
The Phoenix tea has had a long history behind it. It was said that during South-Song Dynasty (南宋 Nan-Song), the Emperor went to Chao-shan (潮汕) and passed-by the Phoenix Mountain. He felt thirsty, and his servant plucked the leaves from tea tree and prepared the drink to serve. It quenched his thirst at once and he was very happy. Due to its shape of leaf which is similar to the beak of a bird, it was named "Beak Tea" (鸟嘴茶 Niao-zui Cha). Since then, it was widely planted. It was also named as Song Cultivar (宋种 Song-zhong) because it was planted since Song Dynasty. Up to date, the cultivar has lasted for more than 900 years. Since Ming Dynasty (明代 Ming-dai), it became the tribute tea to emperors.
Dancong is a biological term. Dan means Single while Cong is tree or bush. According to Wikipedia, “Dancong refers to the morphology of the tea plant. Most tea bushes emerge from the ground as a cluster of branches; however, the uncommon dan cong variety emerges as a single trunk that branches off higher up the stem.”
After a certain single tea tree is found to carry unique flavors, seeds and branches will be taken off and grown in large scale. Grafting was introduced later to better the quality and diversify the flavor and improve tea trees immunity to natural disasters like extreme temperatures and insects.
The unique features of Dancong tea lies in its “mountain feel” and “flowery tastes”.
The “mountain feel” or “Shan Yun” comes from the habitat of the tea trees. Untouched by modern world, the mountains are densely wooded with a rich layer of nutritious soil containing various minerals. The rocks are consisted primarily of shale rock which is easily eroded, adding to the mineral contents of the tea. As Fenghuang Mountain is in the monsoon rain zone, the plentiful rainfall, thick layer of soil, and dense woods contribute to the year around water supply.
Fenghuang Dancong tea trees grow between 360m and 1450m above sea level. For those above 600m, the “mountain feel” is quite obvious. The higher the elevation, the stronger the feel.
The flowery tastes come from the various amino acid contents in the tea leaves. These natural flavors are quite different from the flower teas like jasmine tea.
Different types of Dancong tea
Dancong is geographically divided into Fenghuang Dancong and Lingtou Dancong. In 1950, grading system was introduced for tea processed in Fenghuang Mountain.
Fenghuang Dancong (single tree tea processing)
Fenghuang Langcai (different processing technique. Lang means stirring, and Cai means vegetables. Langcai means stirring vegetables in a wok, used to describe the important process of Dancong tea)
Fenghuang Shuixian, a general term, though the leaves are less quality than the previous 2.
Natural flower flavors: 53 different types;
The special feature of Dancong tea lies in the flavors of tea. According to Wikipedia, "The doppelganger of teas, Dancong teas are noted for their ability to naturally imitate the flavors and fragrances of various flowers and fruits, such as orange blossom, orchid, grapefruit, almond, ginger flower, etc."
Dancong’s special functions includes (in addition to the functions of general tea):
Reducing the free radicals in the body thus reducing chances of cancer;
Lowering cholesterol and fatty tissue levels;
Slowing the aging process;