Oolong "Feng Huang Dan Cong" or "Fenghuang Dancong / Phoenix Dancong Tea" (from China Tea Book)

Fenghuang Dancong Tea is produced in Fenghuang Mountain (Town), Chao'an County, Chaozhou City, Guangdong Province, and is named after the single plant (bush) harvesting and production process. Chao'an County is located in the transitional zone between the plain and the mountains in the Hanjiang Delta, with a subtropical maritime monsoon climate.

The average annual temperature is 21.4°C, the average annual rainfall is 1668.3 millimeters, relative humidity is 75% to 85%, and the average annual sunshine hours are 1996.6 hours. Fenghuang Mountain area is located in the northeast of Chao'an County, adjacent to Raoping in the east, Dabu in the north, Fengshun in the west, surrounded by green mountains, with an altitude of over 1100 meters, and Wuchong Mountain, which is famous for producing tea, reaches 1391 meters high.

Compared with other areas in the county, Fenghuang Mountain area has a slightly lower average temperature (17.4°C), shorter sunshine duration (1400 hours), slightly larger rainfall (2119.7 millimeters), and a temperature difference of 8°C to 10°C between day and night. The soil is deep and fertile, with abundant groundwater, frequent fog, and dew, creating an excellent environment for tea planting.

Fenghuang Dancong Tea is made from the buds and leaves of the Fenghuang Narcissus tea tree variety.

Fenghuang Narcissus is asexual, large-leafed, early-maturing tea tree variety, which is said to have been cultivated as early as the Southern Song Dynasty. Legend has it that Emperor Zhao Bing of the Song Dynasty passed through Wudong Mountain in Fenghuang Mountain area when he was thirsty. His attendants picked a kind of leaf tip resembling a bird's beak, boiled it, and drank it. It stopped the cough and moistened the throat, showing miraculous effects. Since then, it has been widely planted and called "Song Zhong".

There are still 300 to 400-year-old tea trees on Wudong Mountain, which are called descendants of Song Zhong. The largest one is named "Big Leaf Fragrance", with a height of 5 to 8 meters, a width of 7.3 meters, and a stem thickness of 34 centimeters, with 5 branches. Due to the large size of the tea tree leaves, which are elongated or oval, mostly flat or slightly curled, green in color, with or without oiliness, and slightly sharp at the tip, resembling a bird's beak, the local farmers call it "bird beak tea".

In 1956, it was officially named "Fenghuang Narcissus". After being processed into tea, Fenghuang Narcissus is divided into three grades according to the quality of raw materials and the degree of refinement: Fenghuang Dancong, Fenghuang Langcai, and Fenghuang Narcissus. The high-quality products made from the selected single bushes cultivated in the Narcissus population belong to the Dancong grade, the lower-quality ones belong to the Langcai grade, and the lowest-quality ones belong to the Narcissus grade.

Fenghuang Dancong Tea is an excellent single plant selected from the Fenghuang Narcissus population, cultivated by generations of tea farmers for hundreds of years, and named after single bush harvesting and production.

Local people in Fenghuang are accustomed to giving various single bushes names based on the leaf shape, tree shape, and aroma of the finished tea. Combined with the characteristics of the strain and quality, ten fragrance types are divided, namely Yellow Twig Fragrance, Zhilan Fragrance, Honey Orchid Fragrance, Osmanthus Fragrance, Yulan Fragrance, Ginger Flower Fragrance, Night Blooming Fragrance, Jasmine Fragrance, Almond Fragrance, and Cinnamon Fragrance. Common product names include Yellow Twig Fragrance Dancong, Osmanthus Fragrance Dancong, Yulan Fragrance Dancong, Honey Orchid Fragrance Dancong, etc.

In the harvesting process, tea farmers have three rules: do not harvest when the sun is too strong, do not harvest in the early morning, and do not harvest on rainy days. Generally, tea picking starts around 2 p.m. and ends around 4 to 5 p.m., immediately followed by withering.

The initial processing process includes withering, cooling, shaping, fixing, rolling, and drying. Each step needs to be flexibly controlled based on factors such as the quality of the tea leaves and changes in the weather. During withering, the fresh leaves should be thinly spread out without overlapping. When the weather is dry and the air humidity is low, light withering is appropriate, while heavy withering is suitable when the weather is humid.

After withering, the leaves are placed on a cooling rack indoors for 1 to 2 hours, and the thickness of the spread leaves should not exceed 3 centimeters. High-quality products often undergo two witherings and two coolings. During cooling, the leaves are stacked and screened appropriately, with high stacks on the four sides and low in the center. The operation of rolling or shaking and spreading should be carried out about 5 to 6 times, with each rolling or shaking combined with spreading for about 1.5 to 2 hours, and the spreading time should be extended by about half an hour in the later stage.

Starting from the third time, shaking or rolling 50 to 100 times according to the changes in the leaves. The appropriate leaves for shaping should be "two-thirds red and one-third green", forming a spoon shape, and have a fragrant aroma when smelled. In the frying process, it is best to first cover and then stir-fry, followed by a second frying at a lower temperature until partially dry, followed by spreading for 1 to 2 hours. The third frying is at a lower temperature until completely dry. The meticulous processing ensures the production of high-quality tea. Nowadays, mechanical or semi-mechanical operations are used in the shaking, fixing, rolling, and initial drying processes.

The quality characteristics of Fenghuang Dancong Tea are tight, straight strands, with a yellow-brown color resembling the skin of an eel, glossy and oily, and with vermilion red dots. It has a unique natural floral fragrance, rich and mellow taste, prominent mountain charm, clear and bright yellow soup color, vermilion red edges on the leaf bottom, bright yellow leaf belly, and is resistant to brewing.

The main fragrance characteristics of Fenghuang Dancong Tea include the Osmanthus Fragrance type, which has the aroma and mountain charm of Osmanthus flowers; the Yellow Twig Fragrance Dancong tea, which has the aroma and mountain charm of Yellow Twig flowers and is resistant to brewing; the Zhilan Fragrance Dancong tea, which has the aroma and mountain charm of Zhilan flowers and is resistant to brewing; the Yulan Fragrance Dancong tea, which has the aroma and mountain charm of Yulan flowers and is resistant to brewing; the Honey Orchid Fragrance Dancong tea, which has the aroma and charm of small-leaved Honey Orchid flowers and is resistant to brewing.

Tea has won numerous awards in domestic tea competitions. In 1982, Fenghuang Dancong was named a national famous tea by the Ministry of Commerce (Changsha, National Tea Competition). In 1986, Fenghuang Dancong Tea was named a national famous tea by the Ministry of Commerce (Fuzhou, National Tea Selection Competition). In 1989, Fenghuang Dancong Tea was named a national famous tea by the Ministry of Agriculture (Xi'an, National Tea Selection Competition). In 1990, Fenghuang Dancong was once again named a national famous tea by the Ministry of Commerce. In 1991, at the Hangzhou China International Tea Culture Festival, Fenghuang Dancong Tea was named "China Cultural Famous Tea". In the same year, it was awarded the title of "Green Food" by the Ministry of Agriculture. In October 1994, at the first Cross-Strait Oolong Tea Appraisal and Display Exhibition (Zhangpu, Fujian), six Fenghuang Dancong teas were exhibited, winning two first prizes, two second prizes, and two third prizes. In May 1995, Fenghuang Town was awarded the title of "Hometown of Chinese Famous Tea (Oolong Tea)" by the Ministry of Agriculture as part of the "First Batch of One Hundred Chinese Specialty Towns Naming and Promotion Activities". In the same year, at the Second China Agricultural Expo held in Beijing, "Osmanthus Fragrance Single Bush Tea" won the gold medal. Fenghuang Dancong has always occupied the domestic and foreign markets, being sold domestically in eastern Guangdong, southern Fujian, and exported to Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, and in small quantities to Japan and the United States. It is especially loved by overseas Chinese in the Chaozhou-Shantou area of Guangdong, with high prices.

(Source: China Tea Book. Author: Guo Yaling)

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