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phoenix oolong: bouquet styles
as if it were Fragrant Blossoms
I do not personally like strong flowery aroma in my tea except only for that of Phoenix. This intrinsic fragrance, varied from one variety to another, is entirely different from any additives, natural or artificial, added to some other teas. It is innately spontaneous and so very clear, and thus a strong sense of purity. Purity is the essence of tea to me.
When you open an air-sealed pack of such tea, the bouquet simply rushes at you, as if there really were a bunch of fragrant blossoms in there. The aroma has a distinct clarity that is akin to certain wild Chinese orchids. That is why a lot of the names of the tea varieties have orchid names (the Chinese character for orchid is romanized as “Lan”, as you see in many of the Phoenix names). It can also be associated with the pure, sweet aroma of the popular Chinese sacred lily(1) — Shuixian. That is why the main group of cultivars is called by that name(2).
A fine one can be infused to a silky texture with a crisp clarity, accented with a light bitterness and a clean, sweet aftertaste. And the bouquet always there.
There are two main harvests for fine bouquet style Dancongs: spring and winter. Spring ones are always fuller body, better balanced and longer taste. The finest ones are always from bushes plucked just once in spring. Compared to the spring harvest of the same variety from the same farm, a xue pian (i.e. a snow flake, which is a special name for winter harvest Phoenix) is often clearly more aromatic but relatively shorter and more bitter. Some people like it that way, though.
To maximize the enjoyment of the aroma, use more tea and shorter infusion time. I normally have it 5 to 7 grams to 150 ml water for 30 seconds in the first round, but that really is dependent on the quality of the particular selection.
If it is a really fine selection, I may infuse for longer time with a tiny bit less tea, so I can maximize the taste as well.
A clean air environment helps a lot too.
As mentioned in the health notes in the Phoenix health page, bouquet style dancongs are especially effective in reinforcing the body immune against respiratory infections. However, they are a lot colder in TCM term than classic style ones. Therefore if you have a TCM cold body foundation or condition, use a classic style instead. Xue pians are even colder than spring ones, so if you really need a chill, you know what to look for.
When you use a Phoenix oolong to help fight against respiratory infections, use more tealeaves and short infusions, such as 6 g for 20 seconds, in 150 ml water. Drink continuously, in small sips, for 300 ~ 500 ml.
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1. The Chinese Sacred Lily is a variety of Asian daffodil that has a very pure and distinctive sweet fragrance. The flower blooms in early Spring so it is popularly used as a Chinese New Year decoration in southern parts of China.
2. The main group of cultivars used to be employed in the Wuyi area is also called by the same name, except that in Wuyi they can never achieve the kind of aroma in the products. The name, however, had been used popularly in all mass market grade Wuyi — the Shuixian that used to be served in dimsum restaurants until very recently. <go to the Wuyi Shuixian page>