Fenghuang Dancong(Phoenix Oolong Tea)


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.

Cultivar and Plucking

The name of 凤凰单丛 means the single shrub (单丛 Dan-cong) of tea cultivar. This is referring to the individual plant selected and cultivated from the group of Phoenix Shui-xian tea cultivars (凤凰水仙群体品种 Feng-huang Shui-xian Qun-ti Pin-zhong) found at the Phoenix Mountain (凤凰山Feng-huang Shan). There are many sub-cultivars under the group of Phoenix Shui-xian cultivars, and each individual shrub has its own characteristic in terms of the leaf and shape of tea tree. The made tea will give a wide range of aromatic profile which varies among different individual shrub. The mother plant of the cultivar is aged more than 200 years. This selected individual plant is particularly bred and processed. This is one of the remarkable cultivars among the Phoenix cultivars.
This cultivar is the small arbor (小乔木 Xiao-qiao-mu) with leaf of middle size in long-oval shape. The leaf is yellowish green in color with a sharp tip. The leaf is very thick but soft with bud in light yellowish green color. The budding season starts by the end of March.
The plucking starts by the end of March. When the first buds grow and fully develop, it is called Zhu-ya (驻芽). This indicates the starting of plucking season: the bud is plucked together with 2-3 leaves. In particular, the plucking is not carried out if leaf is covered with thick dew or after the rain. The hand-plucking is carried out with care in order not to cause damage to the leaf, and the plucked leaf must be lightly placed in the bamboo basket.

Brewing tea

Brewing dancongs is a lot of fun, especially with premium dancongs that all have beautiful and complete leaves and the aroma and taste are superbly clean, focused and refined. You will be surprised by the strength and the durability of them:  using a slightly cooler water temperature (~195 to 200F) than for yen cha, and keep the steeping time less than 45 seconds.

Chao Zhou Gong-fu Style

In Chao Zhou area, there is a unique brewing technique called either Chao Zhou brewing style or Gong-fu brewing style. This brewing method requires a higher ratio of tea leaves to the volume of water. The Dan Cong tea will be steeped repeatedly, each for a brief time with boiling water. The advantage is shortening the brewing time and while extract concentrated flavors from tea leaves instantly. Less brewing time minimizes the contact of tea leaves with hot water. Eventually tea leaves are not overheated and we can enjoy a very fresh and original flavor of tea from each brewing. In addition, it is easier to make tea tastes much thicker and richer with this brewing method. If one is getting used to very thick Phoenix tea brewed in Chao Zhou style, it is hard for them to enjoy lightly brewed tea anymore. Since this method requires higher ratio of tea leaves, it is advisable to use smaller tea ware so as to minimize the consumption of tea leaves, thus preventing wastage especially those very high-end Phoenix Dan Cong tea from old tea trees.
In Chao Zhou, most of people use a Gaiwan to brew tea. It is suitable to use the Gaiwan with a capacity volume of about 50-100ml. Since you can brew most of Phoenix Dan Cong teas up to 10 - 20 times, a small Gaiwan is very ideal.