A year after purchasing my first stock of Dancong oolongs from my favourite producer in Chaozhou I'm almost out of those meagre two kilos. Unfortunately, most of this has been drunk by myself and one good friend who I got hooked on the stuff back in our beer brewing days. Not exactly a good business prospect, but really this is all down to my own lack of marketing ability. With new season Dancong arriving at HQ imminently I felt like I should up my game. These are damn good teas; that's why I put them in my portfolio and that's why I've also drunk most of it myself. Oops! Before I go on, there's 20% off at the moment, while stocks last.
This morning as I was enjoying my 6th steep of Da Wu Ye in the gaiwan, I heard from my aforementioned brewing buddy, who happened to mention that of all the teas he's tried from me "it's the Da Wu Ye that never fails to grab my attention every time I brew it". It was such a relief to hear, just at the moment I was feeling I'd failed at promoting it. I'd had those moments too, plenty of times. It's such a drinkable tea, so reliable and refreshing. It's uplifting but not high caffeine or high energy, just invigorating, and it has exceptional longevity when brewing gongfu style with lots of leaves and short infusions (I went into double figures with my session today).
I put Da Wu Ye into my Shade category and in some ways I think it's one of the best examples of the concept. The drinkability I mentioned before is held together by its exceptional balance. The flavour and aroma complex rests contently amongst the floral and vegetal spectrum but neither is overpowering. There's a grassiness and slight steamed greens quality to it which is complimented and soothed by a pleasant sweetness. It has good floral aromatics which seep into the flavour but they're soft, not intense or heavy on the palate like some other oolongs. And there's a mineral finish, which is tempered just enough to add an extra layer of complexity to the whole picture and keep it from seeming dull. This is the workhorse a tea we all need in our lives. It's the "daily drinker" and the friend you can rely on in a jam.
Although this tea works very well in a gongfu setup it also works very well brewed in bulk and especially as an iced tea (still too cold here for me to even think about that right now). I decided to brew a session using my Hario tea dripper for some photography (but I have since drunk two full pitchers worth). The big leaves, about 40% oxidised, take some time to unfurl fully and, being typically larger as the oolong style requires, the water takes time to penetrate through the whole leaf, meaning extra steeps with plenty of flavour and low bitterness. My suggestion, whether brewing western or eastern, is for short infusions and a light liquor. There's plenty of flavour to go around and the lighter steeps keeps any astringency at bay.
After all is said and done, a look at the juicy green leaves still keeps the mouth watering, even after copious cups of the brew. They tempt you to chew them, and why not! Unroll the edges, hold them in your hand. Take a look at the bruised edges with signs of the oxidation that gives us that full flavour and mouthfeel. Such a good tea. The new season's harvest is just ready and I sincerely hope there's enough interest to allow me to buy some more in. Take advantage of the sale and I hope you enjoy!