Jianghua Xiang (Ginger Flower)

Dan Cong Wulong Tea 2022

Ginger Flower’s forward, sweet-spicy fragrance invokes its cultivar’s namesake with a boldness that softens into ripened fruit and pastry aromas. Its old-growth tea trees yield a persistent, smooth flavor. This Dan Cong wulong’s vibrant floral aromatics and a candied ginger-like sweetness linger in the cup over multiple steeps.

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Tea Origin
Wu Dong Mountain, Phoenix Mountain, Chaozhou City, Guangdong Province, China

Tea Bush
Jiang Hua Xiang (Ginger Flower)

Tea Maker
Wu Jianhua and Chen Hongwei

Harvest Time
Late April

Plucking Standard
Zhong kai mian

This tea is a personal favorite of tea maker Chen Hongwei and his son Chen Weiqiao, selected from among the many varieties of old-growth tea plants in Wudong Mountain, one of the tallest and most prestigious mountains in the famous Fenghuang or “Phoenix” Mountain range in Chaozhou. Ginger Flower’s intense, lingering ginger-like fragrance endures through numerous infusions and its complex and full body fills the entire mouth, all while forgoing the astringency typical of Dan Cong wulong made from younger tea trees.

A skilled tea master will carefully control the speed of leaves’ oxidation during a tea’s processing to help develop and highlight the unique qualities of its natural aroma. The leaves used to make this tea were plucked from single trees in old groves, with plants aged approximately 100 years old. The majority of their leaves come from the single tree whose fragrance they are named after. These old seed-grown tea plants are harvested just once during the season, and the quantity of leaves that can be plucked is limited.

Dan Cong Wulong Tea garden
Dan Cong wulong tea garden.

Dan Cong literally translates to “single bush.” In the modern tea market, that term variously refers to tea from a single individual plant, a single cultivar, or generally the wulong tea of the Phoenix Mountain region. It’s often the case that Dan Cong wulongs are named after the distinct fragrances of these tea bushes (e.g., Honey Orchid, Magnolia, and Yellow Sprig). The name “Ginger Flower” comes from the natural floral aroma of the variety of tea bush used in its production. Dan Cong processing aims to emphasize the bright, delicate, and changing aromas of the tea leaves; therefore the charcoal roast is generally not carried to the same extent as for Wuyi Rock Wulong.

For teas like these, in particular, great care is taken to preserve the purity of the aroma. Smokeless embers of locally produced lychee and longan charcoal are traditionally considered to be the best for roasting Dan Cong, adding no resinous smoke or sooty off-flavors to cloud the tea’s qualities, be they shocking or subtle. Coaxing this natural fragrance out of the leaves is largely due to the skill of the tea master who withers, oxidizes, and roasts the tea.

Harvest and Processing

The processing of Jianghua Xiang begins when leaves are picked at the end of April, the spring season for wulong tea in Wu Dong Mountain. The top 3-4 fresh leaves are picked, following the “zhong kai mian” picking standard. Leaves are picked around noon and are carried back to the factory before 5 PM.

Many tea bushes, that are older than 100 years old, grow on Wudong mountain which is the tallest area in the Phoenix mountains.
Many tea bushes, that are older than 100 years old, grow on Wudong mountain which is the tallest area in the Phoenix mountains.

Fresh leaves are withered outside in the sun for an hour or two, depending on how cold the weather is, and then they are moved inside and evenly separated into piles about an inch thick on large round bamboo trays. The trays are stacked on wooden shelves, where they will stay for about eight hours. During this time, the tea master checks the leaves very often to monitor their oxidation. Every half hour or so, the master will shake the bamboo trays, twisting the tea leaves. This forces the cells to break on the edges and surfaces of the leaves, gently and naturally oxidizing the tea.

When the tea master judges it is time, the oxidation process is halted by frying the leaves in very hot rolling machines. The leaves will quickly be fried for 7–10 minutes at about 200°C, adjusted depending on the amount of tea leaves. After that, they will use kneading machines to compress and twist the soft, hot tea leaves. The pressure is controlled to give the right amount of compression to twist the leaves into their long shapes.

The twisted, wet leaves will then be dried by roasting for about 45 minutes. The mao cha is now completed. The leaves will still have stems and some leaves that will not fold because they are too old. These unwanted leaves and stems are sorted out by hand. After the sorting process, the Dan Cong will be roasted twice more–once using an oven and once again using smokeless charcoal. This is a special quality of this tea. Most other Dan Cong are now only roasted in an oven, and not over charcoal.

The tea culture of Chaozhou

Chaozhou, situated in Guangdong Province, is in the heart of China’s southeastern coast, a region both populous and historically isolated by geography and language. It is the cradle of gongfu tea, a method of tea preparation rooted in the customs of Chaozhou’s people and how they like to brew their singular style of wulong tea: Dan Cong Wulong. The climate here is tropical, bordering on subtropical, and the yellowish-red soil is rich and fertile. According to Chaozhou’s local history, the nearby Phoenix Mountain was first cultivated for tea production over 600 years ago.

Gaiwans are commonly used for Chazhou gong fu tea instead of a yixing pot.
Gaiwans are commonly used for Chazhou gong fu tea instead of a yixing pot.

The Phoenix Mountain tea region is very large and has many different peaks within it. The tallest peak, Wu Dong Mountain, is where the region’s tea history began. There are still over 4,000 tea bushes here that are over 100 years old. The oldest of these bushes is the mother bush of the Huang Zhi Xiang (Yellow Sprig) variety. The mother bush is six meters tall and is about 600 years old. Old bushes like these have large tree-like trunks and deep root systems and are locally referred to as “half-tree” tea bushes.

No chemical fertilizer, pesticide, or herbicide was used in the production of this tea. Click here to read more about our promise to fair trade and the environment.

 

 

Jianghua Xiang (Ginger Flower) 2022 brewing guidelines

5 grams (2.5 Tb) tea

12 oz 100°C (212ºF) water

3 min. first infusion

At least 4 infusions: 3, 3, 5, 8 minutes