Master Lin’s Xing Ren Xiang 杏仁香 (Almond Blossom Fragrance) 2005
An aged Phoenix oolong handmade by Master Lin from a tree of the Xing Ren Xiang Almond Blossom Fragrance) cultivar grown on Mount Wu Dong – the Phoenix Mountains’ most celebrated peak. It was harvested in 2005 and has been aged in situ by Master Lin, and has recently been re-fired for us.
Phoenix oolongs are often called dancong 单丛 and are famous for their outstanding fragrances that mimic aromas often found in nature. Due to the small amounts of tea one tree can produce, most dancong are produced in large quantities by using many trees of the same cultivar. However all our teas made by Master Lin are made solely using the harvests of single, old trees resulting in teas which are completely unique in flavour and aroma.
This is the first aged dancong we have stocked in nearly a decade, and we have been biding our time patiently until the right tea became available. This is a mid-oxidised and high roast tea, particularly compared to Master Lin’s usual lighter style, and the 14 years of ageing as well as the subsequent re-roasting has concentrated all the tea’s qualities, adding a plum wine and faint medicinal note to the flavour of the tea.
On the nose the aroma is immediately evocative of dark ales and IPA beers, with the tropical pineapple notes of West Coast hops. The taste is more stewed apricots and dark fruits, with a little bit of residual flavour from the roast and a texture that massages the throat.
Master Lin Wudong Mountain (1150m altitude), Guangdong province, China
SIZE OF FARM
PLANTS AND PROCESSING
Single tree. Camellia Sinensis Sinensis, Xing Ren Xiang cultivar. High charcoal roast. Harvested April 2005.
95°C, 6g per 150mls. Wash briefly, 10+ infusions.
Mount Wudong road is like one of those insane mountain roads one sees in the Tour de France, always bending and always upwards to an unseen misty peak. For those that make the pilgrimage, it is a revelation to see some of the oldest tea trees outside of Yunnan. Some are majestic, some windswept, some with the local villagers growing beneath them, and some in groups like small orchards. Master Lin, a self taught tea maker, has made teas from many of the iconic ancient trees although doesn’t own any land himself, preferring to rent single trees and process their leaf by hand.
Master Lin’s family were not tea makers so his success and passion are all the more extraordinary. A tea maker for over 30 years, he made a point of travelling all over the Phoenix mountains to learn both from the terrain and other tea makers. Once he was confident in his own tea making skills, from 2002 he started to compete at tea competitions where his skills both as a tea maker and as a national level tea taster have helped him win many awards including the Top Gold Medal for Dan Cong at the International Tea Expo at Guangzhou in 2007. Master Lin attributes his success in competitions to his preparation and willingness to consult his fellow master tea makers.