"Charcoal Roasted Dan Cong doesn't just require a lot of patience of me, but also my customers. A lot of them didn't know the Dan Congs that are produced during spring are just baked, and the charcoal roasted ones take another 3 months."
-- Farmer Liu
We have kept a close contact this year with our two primary Dan Cong producers, farmer Liu and farmer Xie, since the Dragon Boat Festival in mid June in order to understand their charcoal roasting plan and progress. It was a long and somewhat confusing wait, because different teas that are different varietals from different altitude, season, and how they have become since they are first produced during spring, determine if they will be charcoal roasted, at what temperature, the duration, and the number of times.
The ones that we have selected for our tea drinkers are charcoal roasted twice at temperature about 100-120C for about 8-10 hours. They are completely different from the fresh spring harvest. They are robust, sweet, roasting and long lasting. Charcoal roasting typically happens from after the Dragon Boat Festival, somewhere at the end of June/the beginning of July all the way to August. After the teas are roasted, they will need to be rested for a month before consumption so the roasting flavor doesn't overpower the tea's flavors and fragrances. After almost three months of wait, we present you the Charcoal Roast Dan Cong Sample box 2021:
14g Shan Qie Ye 山茄叶 (Rou Gui/Cinnamon Aroma): lightly roasted; Shan Qie Ye literally means "mountain eggplant" in Chinese, and this varietal is actually cinnamon aroma but named because its raw leaves resemble the shape of eggplant leaf. It's a high mountain varietal that typically grows at altitude 700-900 meters.
14g Song Zhong 宋种: medium roasted; the mother tree of Song Zhong is from about 800 years ago and it is one of the most original Dan Cong varietals. The Song Zhong nowadays are artificially cultivated through botanical procedures such as propagation, apomixis, etc, it's still a prestigious Dan Cong varietal.
14g Dong Fang Hong 东方红 (Communist Party tea/Gardenia Aroma): medium roasted; It's a Communist Party tea. Dong Fang Hong literally means "the redness in the east", and the name is the same as a famous Chinese communist song. It's another historical varietal that’s never really been classified by fragrance but it leans toward Gardenia Aroma.
14g Shui Xian 水仙: medium roasted; Just like the Yan Cha Shui Xian, Dan Cong also has a Shui Xian. There are some debates over whether Dan Cong or Yan Cha is the mother of all oolong teas because of this overlapping varietal that however, taste very differently.
14g Cheng Men 2018 𪨶门: lightly roasted; Cheng Men or "She Gate", is a location in Phoenix Mountain at elevation about 900-1000 meters. The name is from the local Chao Zhou dialect which doesn't exist in Mandarin. It has never been classified by fragrance, but it leans toward Orchid Aroma. This aged tea was charcoal roasted in 2018, and it has so much robust flavor and fragrance to offer. We include this tea because one of the main purposes of charcoal roasting tea is that the tea can be aged better later on.
14g Honey Orchid Mao Cha 蜜兰香毛茶: lightly roasted; Who would have thought of charcoal roasting a Mao Cha other than our lovely farmer Xie, who loves experimenting. It's an adventure tea and it doesn't disappoint at all!
In addition, we will throw in a small sample of NOT charcoal roasted, but just baked Tong Tian Xiang/Ginger Flower Aroma as a comparison.
If you wish to know more about charcoal roasted Dan Congs, its processing and benefits, you can read our latest blog post: Fire and Tea -- The Journey of Charcoal Roasted Dan Congs.