18 August, 2007

2007 Milanxiang Dancong

The second of two dancong generously provided by Ian [thanks again!], this tea is sold by Jing Teashop at a touch more expensive price ($27/100g) than the previously-enjoyed 2007 Baxian.

I always previously considered dancong to be on the very outskirts of "good tea", being a mere fruity diversion, but I realise through exposure to some sincerely decent dancong lately that this was a very grave error due only to my ignorance. In fact, I've come to enjoy it as much as most other types of wulong (though surely nothing can reach my personal preference for Tieguanyin or Taiwanese gaoshan leaves).

Brita-filtered water @ 90-95C in 10cl dancong pot; ~6-8g leaf; 1 rinse

Dry leaf:
Shorter and darker than the 2007 Baxian, these are more conventional dancong: chocolate coloured, and looking rather like yancha. One or two of the dark twists have green ends remaining from the roasting process.

12s, 10s, 15s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s:
A very clear yellow soup that looks rather like a good malt whisky. Magdalen Tower shatters the morning peace with its six o'clock chimes.

The beidixiang is rich honey, which also characterises the flavour: darker and sweeter than the Baxian, perhaps fitting given its milanxiang genre [honey-orchid scent]. "Beautiful tea."

The body is so floral that it reminds me of Lei's infusions of actual flowers: buds of rose, chrysanthemum, and others. A nice touch to the presentation of this tea is a note of sourness in the finish, which gives a gentle huigan.

The endurance is fine, marching on well through seven infusions, which is a good indicator of quality that is impossible to fake: if the leaf (particularly a wulong) is still delivering good character after so long, it must be decent.

Wet leaf:
Jing claims that good dancong does not fully unravel in the pot. Duly, this tea does not unravel, but that seems to be more to do with the fact that the leaves are so very, very thin - attempting to unfurl them causes them to rip apart so easily. Jing's criterion could well be true, but this leaf is a touch weak in physical structure.

Only the very leaf-edges are oxidised, and the amount of redness is constrained to a very thin, precise border, indicating a good degree of control in the processing. The amount of green basis leaf is high, and this corresponds to a fine, buttery gaoshan wulong character in the nose.

A fine leaf, clearly, if the lesser of the pair provided by Ian - even if it does cost a few dollars more from the vendor. At the price, it's still a great buy.

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