If you are familiar with loose-leaf tea, you will know that there is a certain level of expertise required for entry. Among the various loose-leaf teas, Fenghuang Dancong is relatively challenging for beginners. Fenghuang Dancong is indeed delicious and enjoyable, but why is it so challenging to understand? One reason is the various outstanding and unique characteristics of Fenghuang Dancong, one of which is the "Shanyun" (Mountain Charm) of Fenghuang Dancong.
What Is the "Shanyun" of Fenghuang Dancong?
First, let me explain what "Yun" means. "Yun" can be interpreted as having residual feeling, profound and infinite taste.
Many people associate Fenghuang Dancong with high fragrance, which is also a classic characteristic of loose leaf oolong tea. Because Fenghuang Dancong comes in various aromatic profiles that captivate people, it seems that Fenghuang Dancong is known for its aroma. However, fragrance is just a surface feature. Just like a person's clothing and appearance are superficial, the inner temperament is the most beautiful aspect of a person.
Apart from the tea aroma, Fenghuang Dancong tea possesses another flavor called "Shanyun," which is unique to Dancong. This "Shanyun" is a unique expression of Dancong, a description that can be felt but not easily conveyed.
How Is the "Shanyun" of Fenghuang Dancong Formed?
The formation of the "Shanyun" of Fenghuang Dancong is attributed to three essential conditions: superior ecological conditions, special tea tree varieties, and exquisite craftsmanship. The former is crucial for determining the unique "Shanyun" of tea leaves, while the latter two mainly influence the "fragrance," "vitality," and "sweetness" of Dancong tea, with no obvious relation to "Shanyun."
1.Superior ecological conditions
The tea's variety and aroma are influenced by the environment in which it grows, reflecting its genetic makeup. The "regional fragrance" changes noticeably with environmental variations, including the mineral composition of the tea's growth medium and surface components of the mountains. Fenghuang Mountain, also known as Xiangfeng Mountain, with its high altitude and favorable conditions, provides an ideal environment for tea trees to thrive.
The mountainsides of Fenghuang Mountain, Wuling Mountain, and Wudong Mountain are covered with coarse-grained granite, resulting in red and yellow soils with organic content ranging between 1% and 2%. These soils are rich in minerals, trace elements, and compounds, providing the material foundation for the growth of tea trees and the intrinsic qualities of tea leaves, especially contributing to the unique "Shanyun" and honeyed flavor of Fenghuang Dancong.
The roots of Fenghuang Dancong tea trees, extending deep into the rocky terrain, absorb trace elements from the special mineral structure of Fenghuang Mountain, continuously transforming them into hundreds of organic compounds, including catechins, alkaloids, camphor, theanine, and various vitamins.
Under such favorable conditions, Fenghuang Dancong is more likely to develop its unique aroma and flavor.
2.Special tea tree varieties
Fenghuang Dancong has a diverse range of tree varieties, and their number is countless. They all originate from the "Fenghuang Shuixian" variety. "A Comprehensive Overview of Chinese Famous Teas" describes the Fenghuang Shuixian tea tree as a complex and diverse population with variations in maturity, leaf morphology, and resource types. Fenghuang Shuixian is a sexually reproductive tea tree population, providing opportunities for the diversity of tea tree varieties through sexual reproduction.
The adaptability and resistance of Fenghuang Shuixian tea trees are strong, resulting in naturally fragrant tea with orange-yellow liquor, a fresh and sweet taste, strong aftertaste, and resistance to over-brewing. Tea made from the refined Fenghuang Shuixian variety has a unique honeyed aroma.
The charm of Fenghuang Dancong is unique, but not every tea tree grown on Fenghuang Mountain will exhibit "Shanyun" after processing. Only high-altitude tea trees, especially spring tea from older trees (generally considered to be over fifty or sixty years old), can develop this unique "Shanyun" after careful processing.
There is a saying in Fenghuang Dancong, "Spring Charm, Autumn Fragrance," indicating that only spring tea from Dancong can exhibit this unique flavor, and it is challenging to achieve the same "Shanyun" with tea leaves harvested in other seasons. Additionally, tea trees grown at altitudes above six to seven hundred meters, due to different mountain terrains, also exhibit different flavor characteristics. Regardless, younger trees lack this unique flavor, and the older and higher-altitude trees show a more pronounced "Shanyun."
The saying "timely picking, precise processing" reflects the wisdom accumulated by the ancestors in the production of Fenghuang Dancong tea.
The picking of Fenghuang Dancong is highly meticulous. When to harvest fresh tea leaves and the optimal time of day are not a problem for experienced tea farmers; they skillfully grasp the best picking time and tea-making timing. Whether the tea is fragrant and has "Shanyun" not only depends on environmental and species factors but also has a close relationship with the timing of picking, the standard ripeness of the leaves, the climate conditions during picking and drying, and the degree of enzymatic oxidation during tea making.
The production process of Fenghuang Dancong is also very complex. From sun-drying, airing, bruising, shaking, resting, and fixation, to rolling, baking, and then picking and re-roasting, each step requires strict control of time and intensity to ensure no mistakes are made. Otherwise, Fenghuang Dancong won't reveal its unique "Shanyun flavor."
To truly appreciate the "Shanyun" of Fenghuang Dancong, the quality of the tea you taste is crucial. iTeaworld offers a high-quality Fenghuang Dancong sourced from the core production area in Wudong Village, Fenghuang County. Made from fresh leaves of century-old tea trees, it is truly worth experiencing. If you want to explore other high-quality loose leaf oolong teas, you can try iTeaworld's new Oolong Tea Sampler, which includes classic oolong teas such as Tie Guanyin and Da Hong Pao, in addition to Fenghuang Dancong, allowing you to fully appreciate the flavors of the best loose leaf teas.
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In conclusion, to bring out the "Shanyun" of Fenghuang Dancong tea, the tea leaves must be harvested from old tea trees at high altitudes in Fenghuang Mountain. After meticulous processing, the brewing and tasting process provides sensory enjoyment to the drinker. This unique "Shanyun" is often referred to as "Lan Xiang Gui Yun" (Orchid Fragrance, Osmanthus Charm), "Dancong Yun," and "Mi Xiang Yun" (Honeyed Aroma Charm). The higher the altitude of production for Fenghuang Dancong tea, the more pronounced the "Shanyun" becomes.