Roasted wulongs – Wuyi vs Dan Cong

January 13, 2020
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The cold season has officially arrived. For many of us, this signals the transition from lighter teas to darker ones. With the chill of winter naturally calling for more 'cozy' flavours, dark wulongs, with their warm aromas of wood, roasted nuts and perhaps candied fruits or opulent flowers, might just be what you crave. Below we run through a few of them to help you sort some of the 40 plus wulongs in our catalogue.

The wulong tea family is vast. Not only, does it cover many different terroirs all over China and Taiwan, it also covers an enormous aromatic spectrum, ranging from floral and fruity to the woody and spicy tones of the darker teas. While Taiwan produces some of the most exceptionally aromatic wulong teas on the planet (Bai Hao, for example), when it comes to roasted wulongs (rather than oxidized ones), China really is the place. Within China, two major regions compete: the Wuyi mountains (Fujian) and the Feng Huang mountains (Guangdong). In both these terroirs, ancestral methods of roasting leaves over charcoal have survived and evolved through ages and are still used today to give depth and aromatic complexity to the teas.

Dan Cong – aromatic complexity

Growing on the slopes of the Phoenix Mountains (Feng Huang), ancient tea trees (some more than 900 years old) are harvested once a year to create some the most complex teas in the World. These Dan Cong (single trees) are part of a deep ancestral tradition that spans many centuries. With names such as Mi Lan Xiang (honey orchid fragrance), Qi Lan Xiang (Rare orchid fragrance), Huang Zhi Xiang (gardenia fragrance) or Zhi Lan Xiang (iris fragrance), the modern cultivars used in these regions all descend from the original Dan Cong. Rich in aromatics their infusion demands an awakening and opening of the senses.

Mi Lan Xiang Fengxi

A true classic in modern Dan Cong style coming from Fengxi village. Very seductive, its flowers and exotic fruits aromas have made it a favourite among Guangdong producers.

Chi Ye Bai Ye

A very good example of a balanced charcoal roasting. Light chestnut aromas with a side of ripe fruits and a long flowery breath in the finish.

To try a Grand Cru: Mi Lan Xiang Wudong Daan, 150 years old single tea tree

From the first seconds of steeping, this 150 years old single tea tree wulong releases captivating zesty fragrances mixed with warm traces of caramelized sugar. Notes of exotic fruits bring a lively brisk vitality to this exceptionally persistent tea.

Wuyi – mineral depth

The mountain of Wuyi (Wuyi Shan) is a nature reserve with spectacular landscapes. Cascades of pure water, monumental pillars of stone and deep valleys carved into the rock harbour many plantations of very special tea trees. In these distinct gardens, the famous “rock teas” (yan cha) are cultivated, grown in the mineral rich, rocky earth. Deep and warm in profile, their exceptional mineral aromas calm your senses and soothe your mind.

Shui Xian Lao Cong

Harvested from mature tea plants with roots deeply embedded in the terroir of the Wuyi Mountains, this roasted black wulong offers rich woody and fruity aromas enhanced by its generous presence.

Da Hong Pao

Legendary wulong from the Wuyi mountains, it is the most famous of yan cha. It offers a deep and authentic experience with sweet, lightly tart fragrances, leaving a long after-impression in the mouth.

To try a Grand Cru: Rou Gui Ma Tou

The Ma Tou (“horse head”) section in Wuyi National Park is known to produce some of the best Rou Gui in the region. This style of Wulong, harvested near the namesake rock formation, is amongst the most sought after in China. This high-grade wulong gives a remarkably clean and complex brew, with a true impression of depth.

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