Large trees that look very much like stone fruit trees line the mountainside. Six to 10-foot stone walls form terraces creating flat surfaces across the steep slope. Soils are a rich red color and clay-like. The morning fog is just beginning to lift and the height of these trees slowly becomes apparent. The lush green colors and large size of the tea leaves form an umbrella-like canopy. The trees that will yield Plum Blossom Fragrance (Mi Lan Xiang) are close to 200 years old. Harvesting of the leaves is done using ladders to protect the branches and gain access. After plucking, the leaves are sorted, withered, abraded and shaped, rested and oxidized; abraded again on bamboo mats breaking down leaf cells releasing juices (with steeping, notice the reddish coloration on the edges of the leaves) and lightly fired; then rested and further oxidized and after a time, fired once again to further develop aromas and flavors. The leaves may be worked again, then finally fired at high temperature over wood charcoal locking in its enduring flavors. Lot was made in 2022.
Lot Notes. Over the years, the tea maker has shown a skill in crafting elegant flavors in his various Dan Cong style oolongs and this flavor in particular. As well, his Mi Lan Xiang cultivar has won awards both China-side and in the U.S. In tasting this year's lot, we noted its high aroma and its clean sweet notes. Based on taste of the 2nd and 3rd cuppings - both offering a growing mouth feel, complex flavors and an uplifting finish, the choice was clear.
Tea Facts. A Fenghuang area varietal, of Chaoan County, it grows at an elevation of approximately 1600+ meters. Contrasting temperatures – sunny warm by day, followed by mists and colder nights, are one factor that serves to form and clarify its taste. Additionally, this oolong was harvested from an older tree with roots reaching deep into the mineral-rich soils and fresh sub-surface springs of WuDong Mountain. Firing the leaves at just the right moment seals in its rich tastes - creating a tea that is rich, complex and, by some accounts, intoxicating. These leaves will steep 5 to 7 times exemplifying the depth of the flavors the terroir develops and the tea maker then shapes.
Tasting Notes. Fruit-sweet flavors come to mind. Hints of peach in the aroma; plum in the cup. Stone-fruit like, its sweetness is natural and complex. By the 2nd steep, the leaves are opening and releasing flavors of fruit, almonds, wet and rich. Two firings over wood charcoal ovens have locked in multilayered flavors that will linger long after tasting. The strength of the leaf and its depth of taste will yield 5 to 7 steeps. Lot #8.
Brewing Suggestions. Use 3-4 grams of leaves for 8-12 ounces of water. Boiling water is best, briefly rinse the leaves and pour off to "awaken" the leaf. Try a two-minute steep time and see if you enjoy the taste. We recommend to not leave the leaf in water as the tea will over-steep. It also preserves the flavors in the leaves for additional steeps. First steep is known for aroma, 2nd & 3rd steeps bring out additional tastes. Multiple steeps, 4-7 times, are there to enjoy.