It must be said that I seldom drink dancong ["dan tsong"]. As with most Westerners, my primary introduction to this genre of Guangdong tea is via blogger-cum-teamerchant, Imen, at Tea Habitat. If you like light, fruity wulong, then I find them to good for a pleasant session.
This sample, generously provided by Canton Tea Co. is a little different: it is a hongcha made from dancong. I completely adore hongcha, and so my senses are already tingling at the name of this intriguing experiment.
It must also be said that I am entirely against innovation simply for the sake of sales. In so many modern restaurants, vineyards, and fromageries, it seems that people constantly make new products simply to appeal to the desire in the customer for "something new". I'm all in favour of progress, but I frequently get the impression that much innovation occurs simply for its own sake, to drive sales. Therefore, I approached the teatable with a healthy skepticism, ready to be proven wrong if this tea did indeed turn out to be an innovation in the name of progress.
The leaves are certainly dancong, as may be seen above. Little information is available concerning their provenance, but we can probably assume that they come from the Fenghuangshan [phoenix mountain] range in Guangdong province, in order to be properly called dancong.
This is a fairly mighty tea. Its dancong character lends it the unmistakeable fruitiness of lychee, while the chunky hongcha malt provides a strength and huskiness that is entirely complementary to the delicate femininity of the wulong. It is a lovely little production.
"This is a beautiful tea", comments Lei, as she pays it the ultimate, and uncommon, compliment of having a second cup.
Is there a sting in the tail for this charming blend of hongcha and dancong? Perhaps only the price, which is currently £11/25g - equivalently, it is £165/375g (i.e., $263 for a bing-equivalent). For that price, you could buy some seriously serious pu'ercha, probably at least 15 years old. Would you prefer the latter, or a little hongcha-dancong hybrid (admittedly delicious, as it is)?
I thoroughly enjoyed this tea session, and am grateful to Canton Tea for the sample, which I would otherwise never have encountered. I can't imagine this flying off the shelves, but as I have observed before, perhaps Canton Tea are not selling to the likes of you and me, but to the great British public, who are perhaps more accustomed to paying high prices for small amounts of seemingly rarified goods. Judging from the "comments" page for this product at the company's web-site, it seems to be well-received, despite the price. As always, the choice is a personal one.