Records from the last 1,000 years praise the teas from Phoenix Mountain, which boasts a strong tradition that may have developed the process of oxidation that defines oolongs today back when teas were still enjoyed in the form of powders pressed into cakes! The land is known for its unique terrior and prized centurie’s old trees. It is also the ancestral homeland of the She people who were early cultivators of Phoenix tea.
In general, Phoenix oolong has a delicious bitter flavor. Not all bitter is created equal. Some tea “goes bitter,” usually when over-steeped. This tea starts bitter, and is the bitter of flowers, seeds, fruit rinds, delicious and fragrant things—not overcooked turnip greens. It is a fantastic bitter, very refreshing. It is not only bitter, though, it is often sweet and always accompanied by an intoxicating fragrance. But what that fragrance is, depends on the tea.
The ability to clone trees has brought forth a rainbow-like array of Phoenix teas that mesmerize tea drinkers with their unique flavors. Now tea-farmers can maintain distinct flavor profiles, and then make batches of teas from single genetically unique groves. Their names include orchid, honey orchid, almond, pomelo, duck shit, garlic flower, 8 immortals, white leaf, and many others. Some are the names of the plant varietals themselves, and others name a shared aroma. How is it possible that the same plant, camellia sinensis, could create such a variety of flavors? This is the gift of Phoenix oolong that still ignites me with wonder.