"Gardenia Fragrance" is a handcrafted, single-origin lot made by a true artisan. This lot was made in 2001 making this tea an "aged" Oolong. One will note its large leaves and its distinctive yellow coloration. This is a prized tea in domestic China given its quality and age.
This Fenghuang Dan Cong style Oolong was grown on WuDong Mountain, in the Chao An area, of Guangdong Province. A mountainous region collectively known as the Phoenix Mountains, the teas from the area are renowned and prized. Small farms are carved into the steep mountainous terrain using stone walls and winding terraces where tea bushes, often planted hundreds of years ago, now stand as deep-rooted trees. The growing environment is ideal - mineral-rich soils, subterranean springs, plentiful rain and cooling mists match with warm days and cool nights to develop varietals unparalleled in their complexity and depth.
Working on ladders, the leaves are hand harvested and then traditionally processed according to local area customs. "Gardenia Fragrance" is not typically exported given its very limited supply, strong domestic demand and resulting high pricing. Using essentially an 8-step process the leaves are abraded multiple times on wicker trays breaking down their cell structure and releasing precious juices and rare aromas. These slowly oxidized leaves are then fired, rested, then hand worked again. Each step bringing forth and shaping treasured flavors. The leaves fired in wood charcoal ovens at a temperature between 250-300 degrees C.
The tea maker annually presents great tasting teas. One will note the very large leaves, their consistent shape and coloration. Tea was harvested in early May as the cooler weather receeds at the higher elevations and the oolong trees bloom. The flavors are balanced, early notes are almnd, almost toasty, then becoming more floral and varied.
Flavors are complex with enduring floral tendencies. Some hint of sugarcane, astringency is hinted but surprisingly low for a Don Cong. The finish is lingering, long after the cup is emptied, sweet notes and and flavors remain. Note, this tea really opens in the 2nd and 3rd steeps.
Use boiling water. Do not boil the water too long however. Using 3 grams for 8 ounces, rinse the leaves briefly and pour off. Re-infuse the leaves and steep for 1.5 minutes and taste. This tea is strong and is best with a lighter steep as its flavors are more open. The leaves will certainly steep multiple times!