Introducing Phoenix Dan Cong Tea
Phoenix Dan Cong Tea is the highest grade of natural grown tea on Phoenix Mountain near Chao Zhou in Canton Provence, China. There are many sub types of Dan Cong that are distinguished by their unique floral aromas. Historians are not sure exactly when this tea tree was first identified, but the oldest documented record can be traced back to the Song Dynasty roughly 750 to 1000 years ago. In more recent history, Phoenix Tea briefly gained international recognition when it won a silver medal in the category of exceptional organic tea products at the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition. Aside from that, Phoenix Tea has been virtually absent from the Western World tea market until fairly recently. Since it's from my hometown, I am dedicated to spread the grace of such delicious and complex tea!
What’s so Special About Phoenix Tea?
Both science and myth suggest that Phoenix is the ancestor of all Oolong Tea and many believe this to be true. This variety’s most distinctive characteristic is its aroma and hence its type is distinguished by aroma 香. There are ten distinctive major aromas available today categorized by local tea scholars. They are honey orchid flower, iris and orchid, magnolia flower, gardenia flower, cinnamon, osmanthus flower, jasmine flower, tuberose flower, almond and ginger flower. This is just the beginning—there are many additional subtypes with even more specific names that fall under these 10 major groups. The really unique thing about these varietals is the fact that not a single one of them is artificially flavored or perfumed. Every single aroma comes directly from a very specific type of Phoenix Tea Tree, or single cluster. In fact, Dan Cong literally means single cluster. These beautiful aromas are best brought out naturally during a complex tea making process. The best versions are made by experienced tea makers in ways that simply cannot be duplicated by modern machines (to learn more about Dan Cong's production, click here). The local (Chao Zhou) cultural influence also plays a big part since many subtypes are named after local folklores or dialects, for example, there is one called Duck Shit Aroma, which is a new rising star and gained popularity in China since the 70s. Most, however, are classically floral with notes of fruit or nuttiness or roast sweetness . This is, of course, because of the very special geographic location of the tea’s birthplace—Phoenix Mountain.
Phoenix Mountain—The Perfect Conditions for Amazing Tea
There’s no question about it. Phoenix Mountain is a perfectly formed natural tea farm. Its mountain range contains dozens of peaks that are above 1000 meters. Wu Dong, a main peak, rises to 1390 meters and is located very close to north latitude at 23 degrees and 53 minutes. Research has shown that this is one of Earth’s most ideal spots for growing tea. Wu Dong peak wears a constant cover of fog and features natural forestation coverage of more than 90%. It stays an average temperature of around 20 degrees and experiences abundant rainfall. The humidity, temperature, fog/clouds, and altitude make it ideal in every way for cultivating Phoenix Dan Cong. On top of all of this, a volcanic lake near Wu Dong peak is home to abundant ancient minerals which enrich the soil and serve as excellent water circulation for the entire ecosystem.
Why Haven’t You Heard much of Phoenix Tea Before?
The main reason is that Phoenix Dan Cong has remained a local product of Canton and it is considered a product of pure tea culture. And even among types of wild tea trees grown at high altitudes, Phoenix is exceptional and difficult to source. Grade A Dan Cong comes from trees that are at an altitude of 600-700+ meters, older than 60, and plucked in spring. And even though it possesses distinctive floral and sweet honey aroma, Phoenix Tea can be surprisingly strong on the first sip—something that only true tea aficionados will be immediately used to. But, Phoenix Tea will quickly return much sweetness in every sip thereafter. After all, this is what Chinese tea really is about—experiencing Cha Dao or “the way of tea.” And Phoenix Tea illustrates perfectly that the sweetness of life can be earned after overcoming bitter challenges and that we must at times swallow adversity to emerge victorious.