Musings on Dancong…

Semi-oxidized tea
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Bok
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Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:09 pm

On my last trip I got the chance to sneak away for a few hours to hunt for some tea. I went back to a vendor I had bought some nice Dancong from on a previous business trip.

That afternoon I had good tea and interesting conversations with the shop owner and another customer/friend and evoked a few thoughts and questions on my part in regards to Dancong.

When I discovered this shop a while ago, I was actually looking to find some Yancha. Got lured into the shop by pretty handwritten labels, stayed and discovered a thing I was not looking for, but nonetheless became a new favourite – Dancong oolong.

This time we were discussing prices and how Yancha is becoming crazy expensive. Brings me to my first point: Is Dancong actually underrated? I think it is (not forgetting that Yancha is overhyped). It is such a lovely tea with surprising ability to expose different flavours in one variety, long-lasting, but very tricky to brew.

Probably going to get some discussion with what I am about to write – although Yancha is a different tea with all its richness and variety, I do think that there is an underlying similarity to them. If I compare them to Taiwanese teas of similar processing, the two from China are more similar in taste than to their Taiwanese cousins. Still very different, but close enough for me to say they have a similar profile. To come back to my previous thought, similar but at a much lower price level!

The shop owner was lamenting the state of Dancong farms and farmland compared to the now heavily regulated and protected Wuyi area.
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Bok
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Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:09 pm

My second musing concerns the associated tea ware from Chaozhou. All tea I sampled was prepared in a small gaiwan for fairness of course, but I noticed a few pots on the table and we got into clay talk. He said, that with a CZ pot the tea becomes sweeter and more balanced. Which to prove a point he showed me, moving the leaves from the gaiwan to a pot. It really did change the flavour to the better!

Does anyone have experience with that? How do vintage/older CZ pots fare? So far, all the older CZ pots I have seen, seem to be wonky copies of Yixing styles, is there a distinct CZ pot shape? The shop had a set of Guava shape pots from two-cup to eight (8) cup sizes.
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Bok
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Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:09 pm

Another interesting thing I got into chatting with the other customer is the following. The pretty labeled packs in the shop are the teas the shop is aging by themselves, so their most expensive teas. Some decades old Dancong there! So these teas are extremely expensive. So I was joking I can never afford to drink any of those, to which he said you can!

Just ask for 5 grams and pay for one session with that tea in the shop. Bring some friends and the price is not more than a cup of Starbucks! Had not thought of that and will definitely do that the next time I am in Shanghai. The guy said, that is how he does it to get a better understanding of those teas, without having to ruin himself.

Of course that will not be possible in any shop…
chofmann
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Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:44 am

Bok, sorry we couldn't meet up in Taipei! We are off to Shanghai tomorrow for a couple days of 'vacation' before heading back to the States, and would love to know which shop you went to. My experiences with Dan Cong so far have generally not been phenomenal, so I'd love to taste some good stuff.
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Bok
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Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:34 am

chofmann wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:44 am
Bok, sorry we couldn't meet up in Taipei! We are off to Shanghai tomorrow for a couple days of 'vacation' before heading back to the States, and would love to know which shop you went to. My experiences with Dan Cong so far have generally not been phenomenal, so I'd love to taste some good stuff.
No worries, next time!

Shop is in 天山茶成, a somewhat abandoned tea mall. First floor(ground floor in western sense), the only shop that only sells Dancong.
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Shine Magical
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Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:38 am

I wish I could go to a "tea mall"
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Bok
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Tue Jun 05, 2018 9:07 am

Shine Magical wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:38 am
I wish I could go to a "tea mall"
Sounds better than it is... about 90%+ is rubbish and tourist traps. The few that actually have good tea are also likely to rip you off in other ways. Overwhelming and difficult to find something worth your while.

Imagine the majority of shops having the major “famous” teas more or less lying in the open air :)
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OldWaysTea
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Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:10 am

Bok wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:09 pm
The shop owner was lamenting the state of Dancong farms and farmland compared to the now heavily regulated and protected Wuyi area.
I can't speak to the state of Dancong farms, but I can discuss some of that regulation in Wuyishan. Over the last year the local government has been pulling out the big hammers. On the plus side, they seem to have an interest in protecting the natural resources of Wuyishan. On the other side it is being enforced in a mix of good and bad ways. To my understanding the main goals are to promote sustainable farming and to limit the impacted area of land.

On the sustainable aspect, a couple things I know they are doing are requiring contaminant tests on farmers from some villages as well as restricting the chemical products allowed in the Zhengyan and Tongmu areas. To reduce the impacted area of land the governement is removing tea farms that do not show up on a 2008 (iirc) aerial survey. This involves ripping up the farms and throwing the farmers in jail for a couple months.

I should try some more Dancong, anyone have recommendations for a good vendor (I'm in the US)?
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ShuShu
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Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:15 am

Dancongs made a very strong initial impression on me though it eventually dissolved. There is something almost surprising with the potency of its flowery notes and aroma but as you drink it more, it just seems less and less...interesting (there must be a better word, perhaps complex?). I know its weird, but it just reminds a very good cool summer drink or ice tea... Still, however, one may argue that I need to try the really high-quality stuff (which I haven't).
As for yancha, it just seems to me like a much more interesting and balanced tea. In fact (and I admit that yancha is my staple) I feel that yancha strikes a near-perfect balance between flavor and interest/complexity in a way that no other tea does...
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ShuShu
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Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:16 am

OldWaysTea wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:10 am
I should try some more Dancong, anyone have recommendations for a good vendor (I'm in the US)?
I believe that TeaHabitat is widely considered as a great source for Dancong http://www.teahabitat.com/store/
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OldWaysTea
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Tue Jun 05, 2018 11:04 am

ShuShu wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:16 am
I believe that TeaHabitat is widely considered as a great source for Dancong http://www.teahabitat.com/store/
Thanks, I'll take a look.
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octopus
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Tue Jun 05, 2018 1:01 pm

Bok wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:34 am
chofmann wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:44 am
Bok, sorry we couldn't meet up in Taipei! We are off to Shanghai tomorrow for a couple days of 'vacation' before heading back to the States, and would love to know which shop you went to. My experiences with Dan Cong so far have generally not been phenomenal, so I'd love to taste some good stuff.
No worries, next time!

Shop is in 天山茶成, a somewhat abandoned tea mall. First floor(ground floor in western sense), the only shop that only sells Dancong.

lol i know that shop, is the guangdong guy who smokes the pipe, he's got tiny teaware haha. I would go there more often if it wasn't for the smoking he was nice.
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Bok
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Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:51 pm

octopus wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 1:01 pm
Bok wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:34 am
chofmann wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:44 am
Bok, sorry we couldn't meet up in Taipei! We are off to Shanghai tomorrow for a couple days of 'vacation' before heading back to the States, and would love to know which shop you went to. My experiences with Dan Cong so far have generally not been phenomenal, so I'd love to taste some good stuff.
No worries, next time!

Shop is in 天山茶成, a somewhat abandoned tea mall. First floor(ground floor in western sense), the only shop that only sells Dancong.

lol i know that shop, is the guangdong guy who smokes the pipe, he's got tiny teaware haha. I would go there more often if it wasn't for the smoking he was nice.
Yes!!! That is the guy - world is small...
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Bok
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Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:05 am

octopus wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 1:01 pm

lol i know that shop, is the guangdong guy who smokes the pipe, he's got tiny teaware haha. I would go there more often if it wasn't for the smoking he was nice.
What did you think of his teas? Haven’t had a lot of Dancong, but I found his teas pretty decent so far and at reasonable prices. Big plus for not trying anything sketchy either. Most of the other shops around there look not very trustworthy.
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Bok
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Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:54 am

ShuShu wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:15 am
Dancongs made a very strong initial impression on me though it eventually dissolved.
I have not yet had a terrible lot of Dancong to give a final verdict, but I have found that while there is a unifying Dancong flavour, the teas itself change a lot during one session. I was surprised by this changing character, as opposed to the quite steady oolongs from Taiwan.

I agree with the statement that they are refreshing in character. Something in them makes me crave more, which does not happen often.

So far I have found DC quite complex and diverse. The most challenging to brew in my experience, demands full attention, much more so than Yancha I would say.

I have tried Daohua Xiang (rice flower), Chun Lan Xiang (Spring orchid), Huangzhi Xiang (yellow gardenia) and another where the name escapes my memory, but it was one without Xiang in its name. That one was unusual in the sense that it did not change much over the course of the brewing.

All those were not fresh, but usually a couple of years aged.
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