Old Tree Baiye Red
The charm of phoenix dancong oolong: ever-changing fragrances and aromas in a cup.
Old Tree Baiye Red is a phoenix dancong oolong from the mountains of Raoping County in the city of Chaozhou, in Guangdong province.
The Chinese tea culture is inherited from Chaozhou gongfu-style tea. It is an integral part of people’s lives in Chaozhou. Under the eaves of every house and every shop, is a gongfu tea set: a simple and plain porcelain gaiwan, a round tea tray, three tea cups, and a pot of boiling water. Tea is drank first thing in the morning, after dinner in the evening, and throughout the day.
Fenghuang Mountain or Phoenix Mountain, located 30 km away from the city, has a long history of tea growing dating back to the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). The oldest tea tree is still called “Song Zhong” and “Song King Tree”.
At the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), many people from the city of Chaozhou emigrated to Southeast Asia, and the tea merchants followed along. Phoenix oolong started to flourish as it represented the unique taste and flavor of their hometown.
The name phoenix dancong translates into “phoenix single grove”, referring to the way in which each varietal of phoenix dancong was created. A wild “mother tree” with its own distinct fragrance and taste is selected amongst the indigenous and ancient tea trees in Phoenix Mountain. It is then cloned through the process of grafting and propagation. After several generations of this cultivar propagation, there are now almost one hundred famous varietals of phoenix dancong, each with a unique fragrance and aroma. Most were named after the specific aromas, such as Gardenia, Magnolia, Jasmine.
Phoenix Mountain consists of several mountains and peaks, most of which extend into the clouds at the high altitudes of 800m above sea level. The most famous and prestigious producing region for Phoenix oolong is the neighboring Wudong Mountain. Most of the villages, at more than 1000m altitude, are immersed in the cloud and mist for two-thirds of the year.This Baiye comes from the well-known Lingtou village in Raoping County, where the baiye varietal originates from. The village is charming and picturesque with an abundance of lychee, longan and pineapple fruit trees. The tea farm, at 500m elevation, is small and biodynamic. The tea trees are around 30 years old, and no sprays or fertilizers are used.
Freshly picked tea leaves is withered naturally indoors on woven bamboo mats for 10 hours. Then the leaves are tossed and bruised to ensure even oxidation. The oxidation process lasts for more than 48 hours, allowing the leaves to develop complex flavor profiles. Lastly, the tea is roasted at low temperatures over lychee charcoal, to enhance it’s natural fruity notes.
This tea is incredibly delicious with ever-changing notes. In the first 4 infusions, it has notes of candied pecans, roasted sweet potato and pronounced nectarines. Subsequent infusions has notes of sakura, with a long lingering aftertaste of ripe ataulfo mangoes and dried longan.