27 January, 2008

2007 Milanxiang "Gold Medal" Dancong

So, then, dancong [single bush]. Also known as "Fenghuang" [phoenix] tea, after the mountains down in Guangdong, hence the surfeit of brands such as "Super Phoenix", "Imperial Phoenix", and "I Can't Believe It's Not Phoenix". Imen has a whole ream of interesting information on this genre of tea, for the curious reader.

I have a fairly strong set of prior assumptions when it comes to dancong:

i. Dancong is fruity and floral. It can be pleasant, but is usually fairly simple. It lacks the complexity and enduring appeal of, say, Wuyi yancha or pu'er.

ii. Dancong is fairly homogenous. Once past a certain level of quality, it all tastes the same to me. I can't distinguish a prize-winning uber-dancong at $200/1 mg from a good-quality, reasonably-priced $30/100g.

iii. It's best in the first few infusions, and then it tails off into a gently sweet warm water without developing or evolving into anything too exciting.

Dancong is, to me, a pretty girl who turns out to be horridly boring in conversation.

Don't get me wrong, I like dancong very much. However, I consider it a "light and pleasant" tea to enjoy on a fresh week-end morning, rather than an engaging, exciting voyage of discovery as some other teas can provide. The above are just my personal foibles, if you will.

The subject of this article, the Milanxiang [honey-orchid scent] is from Imen's new foray into the world of on-line tea selling, with which I hope to challenge my prejudice. It is a "gold medal winning" tea which is a statement that, coming from most other people, would make me roll my eyes, given that it's hard to substantiate and even harder to quantify. However, Imen knows her stuff and has been a good writer for so long, that it must mean something in this case.

The leaves are long, as you'd hope for a dancong, and have the fresh scent of fruits that you would expect.

Unlike many dancong, this one has a vibrant energy that is felt on contact with the lips and tongue. It has a smooth honey beidixiang [initial scent in the aroma-cup], which, while pleasant, doesn't endure. It's an aptly-named tea, at least.

The flavour is sweet and full, with a gentle, warming chaqi that flushes my neck. Against all odds, this dancong exhibits a huigan that leaves the mouth watering.

By the fifth infusion, it's all over, and we're into the familiar territory of sweet, fruity warm water.

Overall, this is one of the better dancong that I have had the pleasure of encountering. It didn't really shake my assumptions about the genre, but it was a treat finding out nonetheless.


Anonymous said...

Interesting! Where did you get that one? Is it from Imen?
There is some sort of hype surrounding these teas at the moment a bit in par with this lightly roasted oolong fashion.
I pretty much agree with your comparison to a beautiful but insipid girl in the general case, but I'd be happy to change my mind if a dancong could bring something a bit more interesting than just a nice scent and a bit of a pleasant perfumed-water taste.

Hobbes said...

Salut, Iwii!

This one is from Imen, yes indeed. I suspect any hype is generated from the fact that, like the lightly-roasted wulong you mention, they are very accessible and forgiving teas. They provide an enjoyable, refreshing experience straight from the outset - but I find them missing a dimension of complexity that I find from some other types of tea.

If you're after a very pleasant dancong, this range from Imen is probably as good as any you'll find out there - I can't claim to have done much research in this area, though.

A bientot,


Vladimir Lukiyanov said...

Interesting. I've recently tasted some good dancong (from JTS) that I could say was perhaps interesting. But the aromatics aside, I couldn't really say the tea had any outstanding qualities. Yet I wouldn't quite agree with your comparison, somehow, it's not so much that there isn't depth... its something different...

Hmm... and why is there LaTeX in the


Hobbes said...

Howdy, VL,

I think I may have tried the same Jing Teashop dancong (with many thanks to IMcC a.k.a. "ConquestOfBread"):

2007 Baxian Dancong
2007 Milanxiang Dancong

What did you think of them? They all seem much the same to me, I must confess.



P.s. The LaTeX is a feature of my every waking hour, right now. ;)

toki said...

I'm an addict to DC also, and how's the chi from this one? The leaves are like the arm of "Xishi" .... A bit on the fashionable-slim- side : )

Vladimir Lukiyanov said...

I think I've tried the Ba Xian that you mention... can't remember much about it though... though I did get the feeling it was well made.


Michel said...

I tend to hold a similar preference as you and iwii regarding my daily teadrinking .
teas such as pu ehrs or heavily roasted oloongs I prefer rather that the 'perfumed and sometimes sexed up' teas such as very green guan yin, oriental beauties or Dancong.

However a great tea is a great tea. The genre then is less important as these teas win me over.
Norpel very kindly sent me a sample of some of imen's gold medalist.

It's special- I love it.

Hobbes said...

Dear Toki,

"Like the arms of Xishi"?! I'm going to be paying more attention to these leaves next time I brew it!

Dear Michel,

Have you tried any other teas originating from Imen? I'm curious to examine the rest, but haven't much time. I'll try and do some this week-end.



Unknown said...

Dear Hobbes: I realize this is a long-dead thread, but everything lives forever on the Intertubes, I suppose.

I have been reading Imen's blog awhile, and I'm going to receive a package from her with quite a number of Dan Congs this upcoming week. I've had a Dan Cong recently that I was not too excited by, though I fault poor shipping (the poor leaves were smashed nearly to powder, and had been in a hot car for days, apparently), as well as my own unfamiliarity with brewing. Rather bitter but unsubstantial stuff.

But I expect Tea Habitat's teas should be interesting, as Imen is obviously very knowledgeable. I'll be posting about it at length when I experiment with the teas. I only hope my on inadequate gongfu won't be too great a hinderance.

I love your blog and come here all the time. I was glad to see you have posted your adventures in Dan Cong, because it's quite useful as I prepare to think about this new type of tea I've never known too much about.

Hobbes said...

And live they do!

I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on Imen's teas - the last I had, back in 2007, were very good.

Best wishes,