March of the Orchid - Tea Club

March i here and it's time for a new Tea of the Month. This time it's going to be our Chun Xue (Snow Pick) Mi Lan Xiang from 2019. The main reason for choosing this is that I have only a very tiny amount left and I want a chance to celebrate before it's gone. This year's spring harvest is almost upon us and to mix it up a bit I'll be replacing this with a snow pick Ya She Xiang. More on that in due course!

The Mi Lan Xiang is a winter harvested Dancong oolong from Phoenix Mountain. Dancong means 'single bush' but can be thought of more accurately as single cultivar. The camellia sinensis varietals in this region are famed for their individually unique aromatic qualities, selected and cultivated over thousands of years to hone in on their distinctive fragrant qualities. There are many to choose from, captivating the senses with an array of floral, nectar-like aromas and fruity, creamy, zesty, mineral accompaniments .Within these varieties we also have bushes that range from 30-40 year old or beyond 300 years. These old bush, or "Lao Cong" bushes, are obviously highly prized and add a new dimension of energy and body sensation to the fold.

Winter harvests are said to be the most highly aromatic and tend to be roasted less than their spring counterpart - maybe only once or twice - to maintain that delightful yet delicate complex. This means the teas are lighter in colour and flavour and so will sometimes be more suited to the more seasoned tea drinkers. Spring varieties will be roasted up to four times, which deepens the taste and improves storage. Nevertheless, for those who enjoy spending that little extra time appreciating their tea sessions, especially using the gong method, will find winter teas all the more exceptional.

Mi Lan Xiang translates as Honey Orchid Aroma. It is one of the more well known Dancong varieties in the west alongside Ya Shi Xiang. Its name gives a lot away, betraying its full floral orchid aroma combined with a honey-like sweetness. I also find a toasty character and a definite sweet potato fragrance to it. In lighter infusions I found a grassiness and a soft, low acid mouthfeel. Longer steeps brought out greater depth, with a juicier fruity flavour and a more defined honey-orchid floral character. Still, this is a tea that likes to be dealt with carefully. Water too close to the boil or steeps that get forgotten will chastise you with greater bitterness or acidity.

Our current Chaozhou offerings are Mi Lan Xiang and Da Wu Ye. Each order of Mi Lan this month will receive a free sample bag of Da Wu Ye for comparison. In the future I hope to be able to offer you a much greater selection of these fine teas and a taster pack which will allow anyone interested to compare and contrast a handful of these aromatic beauties.

Snap some up while you can...

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