Golden Dawn is in a class of high-mountain Oolongs considered to have been tribute teas during the Song Dynasty. This lot was harvested from aged Oolong trees estimated to be well over 60 years old. The roots of these trees now reach deep into the rich soils of the Phoenix Mountains, drawing minerals and spring water in an environment deemed perfect for developing strong, nuanced flavors. Its long, elegant reddish-brown strips of leaf turn green and with reddish color edges with steeping. Lot No. 97.
This lot was purchased in 2004, packaged and stored in steel cans made specifically for preserving this tea. Its large leaves are consistent in size and shape indicating care in the pluck, sorting and handling of the leaves. This lot was handmade by a local tea maker in a small village in Chaoan County, in the Phoenix Mountains of Guangdong Province. This area is well-known for yielding the highest grades of Dan Cong style Oolongs.
Grown on the slopes of Wu Dong Mountain, at an elevation of approximately 1100 meters. It is small farm produced and hand crafted. This type of tea was typically harvested in the late afternoon; then carefully sorted, withered and its arduous processing begins. Working with wicker baskets, the tea maker breaks down the leaf's cellular structure, releasing juices and aromas. They are then “rested”, then fired in wood charcoal fueled ovens; then worked once again, rested and the processing goes on through the night to an eventual firing in ovens thereby finalizing the tastes of the tea. This lengthy process shapes the leaves and develops the complex flavors and natural sweetness of the varietal.
The aroma of the leaves is peachy, very enticing. Once steeped, the leaves yield a clean, orange-brown liquor. The flavors of this tea verge on intoxicating. It is sweet like nectar. There is also a "tangy" side to it. Notes of honeysuckle or golden honey come through as well. Some roasted notes suggesting almonds are noticed from the wood firing of the leaves.
Use ample leaf and, if possible, do a Gong Fu style brewing with this tea. It also can be easily brewed in a teapot with loose leaves. Use boiling water, rinse the weaves to “awaken” them and pour that water off. Re-infuse and steep for about 1 minute to 1.5 minutes and taste. The first steep is known for its aroma. In the 2nd steep the leaves begin to open and release their nectar. This tea will steep 5-7 times.