As this is my last Tea of the Week post for 2014, I thought I would save the best for last. Palais des Thés’ Feng Huang Dan Cong Special Oolong, also known as Special Phoenix Tea, is one the of the most exquisite teas in my current collection, as complex on the palette as it is rare.
The taste profile of this semi-fermented tea is somewhere between light and dark. At first sip, it’s toasty and woody, reminiscent of a slice of perfectly toasted bread. Following that, the stone fruit and apple notes come shining through, bright with a delicate sweetness that lingers on the tongue.
As this is a high altitude tea grown in Guangdong, China at 1,500 meters, you can expect to pay a pretty penny for this rare brew. I like to reserve it for the most special of occasions, on its own or after an elegant meal as a digestive. This exceptional tea tastes most vibrant on its first steeping and is sensitive to over brewing, so try to be methodical and thoughtful when brewing it.
Tasting Notes for Palais des Thés’ Feng Huang Dan Cong Special Oolong:
BREWING TIPS: Brew with water at 190 degrees F for 4-6 minutes. I think it’s important to brew this tea Gongfu style, to concentrate the tea’s flavor and to prevent over brewing.
THE TEA: Large, lightly fermented leaves, dark and twisted.
THE SCENT: A mix of ripe fruit with toasted wood and sweet floral notes.
THE STEEP: A light amber brew. Reminiscent of roasted peaches, ripe apricots, peach pit, and longan fruits with a touch of woody cinnamon. Tastes of warm toast glazed with a light drizzle of honey. Delicately floral, like a spring bouquet of orange blossoms. A lively sip followed by a rich pronounced aftertaste.
GET IT: Online, at Palais des Thés.
FOOD PAIRING: I like to drink this brew on its own, after light bites (like my Chinese Roasted Duck Tarts) or an elegant meal of Miso Chive Dumplings. Also a great way to start off your New Year’s detox regimen!