Milanxiang, or Honey Orchid, is a Dancong Oolong from Dazhi Mountain, the third highest peak in the Phoenix Mountains.
“Phoenix Dancong” means “Pheonix Single Grove”, referring to the way by which each varietal of oolong has been individuated and cultivated. To fan-out the qualities and characteristics of Pheonix Dancong, cultivars select a wild “mother tree” amongst the indigenous and ancient tea trees in Phoenix Mountains for its distinct fragrance and taste. They then graft this mother tree onto existing trees, cloning and then propagating it. After several generations of this practice, there are almost one hundred well known varietals of Phoenix Dancong, each with a unique fragrance and taste. Most were named after their specific aromas – we see names like Gardenia, Magnolia, Jasmine, and, in this instance, Honey Orchid.
This Milanxiang is from the prestigious Yinshui Cave 银水洞 in Dazhi Mountain 大质山, 1900 feet above sea level. The trees here are approximately 30 years old. To craft this tea freshly picked leaves are withered 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, during which the leaves develop increasingly complex flavor profiles. Finally, the tea is roasted at a low temperature over lychee charcoal, which accentuates its natural fruity notes.
The resulting tea is very pretty, with ever-shifting references. Its liquor is pink-tinted, and the scent of dried roses aptly accompanies its hue. Beneath the flowers you find nectarines, buckwheat honey and pomegranate molasses. These notes culminate in a honeyed quality that remains fascinating for many infusions.
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