Recently a group of tea enthusiasts I’m apart of attended a tea tasting workshop hosted by Sydney-based online specialty tea vendor Tea Angle.
They specialise in Chinese teas, particularly dancong oolongs (单丛, pronounced like ‘dan tsong’) from southern China (Phoenix mountain near Chaozhou). These kinds of oolongs are known for their varied and complex tastes and fragrances, and our tasting session revolved around trying a variety of these teas back-to-back to compare.
We were provided with a customised information booklet that gave us details on all the teas we would try, including background descriptions and flavour profile, with rankings for attribute strengths like body and bitterness. There was also room for us to write our own notes, since everyone tastes things differently.
The teas we tried were:
- Phoenix duck poop dancong oolong (凤凰鸭屎香单丛乌龙)
- Phoenix almond dancong oolong (凤凰杏仁单丛乌龙)
- Phoenix honey orchid dancong oolong (凤凰蜜兰香单丛乌龙)
- Phoenix honey orchid red (凤凰蜜兰香红茶 – a ‘black’ tea)
- Phoenix shuixian (water sprite) oolong (凤凰水仙乌龙 – not a dancong)
These were expertly brewed gongfu style by the Tea Angle folks, who were very precise with their ratios and timings and were really able to bring out the best in all the teas.
With that much quality tea consumed, we were all feeling quite tea drunk by the end. Fortunately we had nice snacks provided (cheese, crackers, fruit, etc.), which helped keep our blood sugar up 😉
My personal favourite tea of the bunch was the final one – the Phoenix shuixian oolong. This one is apparently the mother of all the dancongs, which were created through selective breeding and grafts of this type. It wasn’t as fragrant as the dancongs but had a deeper complexity to it that I found really appealing.
Sharing tea in our group together was lots of fun (there were about a dozen of us). Some people in our group were relatively new to tea and others were long-time pu’er drinkers, but the Tea Angle folks were able to cater for all of us. They could answer all our questions and had lots of interesting stories to share. They regularly go back to China to source tea directly from farmers, so definitely know what they’re talking about! It was a great group activity.
Find Tea Angle online
They have also recently started their own YouTube channel called The Teapository. It currently covers topics like Chinese tea etiquette and sourcing tea in China, which I have found very interesting!