Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Mi Lan Xiang Dan Cong from Cindy Chen

More tea from Cindy; like Christmas in September.  She sent a number of different teas, and although it might make more sense to start with a Wuyishan tea (where she's from) I tried the Mi Lan Xiang Dan Cong first.  She didn't send Wuyi Yancha oolongs this time, just this one and black teas instead, saying the wet weather there now isn't ideal for the final roasting processes for those from this spring.

Of course Mi Lan Xiang Dan Cong means honey orchid aroma or scent Dan Cong, one of the main types.

As far as other Dan Cong types go, there is a great older blog that covers those, Tea Obsession, with this post on naming and different versions, and another listing posts on the basics.  I've heard that blog author referred to as "the queen of Dan Congs," but then I'd expect most people familiar with that nickname reference would also know of the blog.


This is exactly how you'd hope this tea would be, an absolute joy to experience.  Peach flavor initially comes across as primary, very sweet and full in taste, so clearly defined that along with the rich flavors of a ripe peach you can almost pick out the tangier taste of the skin.  This could relate to a different type of astringency is also common in Dan Cong, a feel and some related flavors that could be said to resemble unripe fruit, a nice pairing with the very sweet and fragrant teas, when it balances well.  This tea is on the softer side, so the feel doesn't add up to the same type of edge that is present in some, just giving it a little body.

standing by orchids, holding a cat; not my normal look though

Beyond the peach a floral aspect joins in, maybe similar to what a honey orchid smells like.  I have an idea of what that component should be but I can't compare it directly to that flower.  Even though I do end up walking by orchids often enough here I don't recognize the types.

The peach and floral elements are intense but there is complexity beyond that, maybe even a trace of cocoa.  That might sound strange, since cocoa would make perfect sense along with malty, more oxidized (mid-range) oolongs, with stone-fruit flavors like peach but also combined with other elements.  It all combines well, as one full, well-integrated, complex range of flavors.  There is plenty of sweetness, and the tastes are very clean, all balanced really well.  A lot of those complex aspects hangs around on your tongue well after drinking the tea, more important to some, only a little interesting to me.

The level of oxidation and roast seems perfect for drawing out those nice flavors and other aspects.  It's roasted on the lighter side, much less than the standard Wuyi Yancha range of oolongs.  You wouldn't want this to be the first Dan Cong you'd ever tasted or else you might be spoiled for the more ordinary range of those teas.  The flavors and other aspects aren't so unusual, individually, but it really all comes together.

Across the first few infusions I'm not noticing the aspects transition much, but then it would be as well if they stayed close to this range.  The balance seemed to shift into floral a little more, with the peach fading.  I had a kiwi with breakfast and something similar is going on there, just with quite different flavor aspects range, with a fruity, sweet character countered by a citrusy edge.  It might be partly power of suggestion but that slight edge in this tea reminds me of kiwi, in a good sense.

some well-twisted leaves

Some of the more subtle, secondary aspects are nice, but harder to describe.  It just seems fresh and bright.  As with other teas in this type the feel isn't as full and rich as with some oolong types, but it has it's own style of fullness and depth.  A richness comes across as almost like the oiliness in shou pu'er types, but coupled with a much different style of tea.

In part due to preferring this brewed lightly the tea goes on forever, lots of infusions, without that brightness or sweetness fading at all.  Later it takes longer infusions to draw out the flavors, well over thirty seconds versus quite short initially.  Sometimes that process change does shift the flavor profile a lot, but not so much in this case, and the flavors aspects never really go "off" in later infusions.

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