Bai Ye Dancong from Wudong Tea
Hey friends! It's been a while and I apologize.. thankfully we have tea to bring us back together again! Today's review is of a bai ye dancong ("White leaf") from Chaozhou Family Tea growers, aka wudongtea on Instagram. This is an old bush tea harvested in spring of 2019, and according to their website, it's only harvested once each year.
Now, before I get into the reviewing, let's talk about Wudongtea. Their specialty is dancong oolongs, a variety of oolong I love to drink, famed for its complex aromas and delicious flavors. They've been growing and processing dancongs as a family for the past 80 years! Located in Wudong village, Chaozhou, China, they produce several unique varietals of dancongs at the base of Phoenix mountain (Fenghuangshan), at an elevation of about 1000m. They very kindly sent me photos of their farm to share with you today. It's no wonder that in such a magical location, a delicious tea is produced with care.
Okay, enough of my nerding out over the geography of one of the most beautiful places in China, so without further ado, let's get into this review!
I brew my dancongs chaozhou style, which means a heavy leaf to water ratio and quick steeps.
8g leaf/60ml gaiwan
Flash rinse 3s ("in and out rinse")
Dry leaf: The bag when opened has a nice charcoal, smokey and nutty smell. Hints of sweetness like a blossom?
Warmed gaiwan: The leaves have a wonderfully nutty, buttery sweetness, lifted up with the smell of orchids.
Rinse 3s: Wow, I'm getting a flavor that totally tastes like sweet potatoes and sugar, but it smells very floral. The leaves are kinda peanutty and roasty too. Interesting.
1st steep 5s: Nice, darker color. This really tastes like a sweet potato in a cup. It has the color of one, too. Nice mouthfeel, not too astringent or drying. There's a vegetal florality coming through on the roof of mouth and upper sinuses. I'm getting a pleasant honey sweetness reminiscent of a jingmai sheng. The fairness cup smells like honeyed licorice combined with the barbecued or grilled/roasted flesh of a taiwanese sweet potato, where you get that nice caramelized outside and tender, sweet inside. I can't stop sniffing the cup because it smells so sweet!!!
Wonderful lasting sweetness in back of mouth, like a honey candy. This is amazing.
2nd steep 7s: The leaves in the gaiwan are really starting to get that "grill" smell of charcoal; the fairness cup smells insanely sweet, like I literally cannot stop sniffing it and enjoying it; It tastes nutty, almost like a cashew. Nice bittersweet cocoa flavors present. This tea is surprisingly sweet for how roasted the leaves looked- its also very green and vegetal tasting now. This is wonderfully complex.
3rd steep 10s: The vegetal/greeny smell is really prevalent in the tea soup now; vegetal undertones popping through too, I can definitely taste the leaves now. There is a very nice dark chocolate bittersweetness in the throat, like a high-quality bar of chocolate sweetened with honey and not white sugar. This is great. Also, the color has deepened intensely to a vibrant reddish orange. Very cool.
4th steep 25s: It's tasting grainy like barley and wheat now. It's still sweet though. Lighter color and it's starting to die for sure.
Hui Wei Bei - 回味杯: This is very nutty and sweet, like honey coated peanuts. It's a great return to the start of the session.
Overall verdict: This is a very nice and interesting dancong. I enjoyed the experience. Wudongtea offers some amazing dancongs, their ao fu hao is my favorite by far (review coming soon!) and I highly recommend checking them out. This bai ye runs at $16.00 for 60g, or about $0.26/g. I'd consider it a decent price for an old bush tea, especially a dancong. While it's not the strongest, it could probably be pushed for more brews if one didn't brew it chaozhou style. Overall, I really enjoyed this tea and would buy it again, solely for the fact that it reminds me of caramelized sweet potatoes and has such an amazing, long-lasting sweetness!