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Dancong vs. Yan Cha oolong: how to distinguish their tea leaves

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Published on Oct 8, 2019

Dancong and Yan Cha: Can you recognise them from the tea leaves alone? In this video, Gabriele gives an overview of two prized categories of Chinese oolong tea (Wuyi Yan Cha, aka Wuyi Rock Tea, and Fenghuang Dancong, aka Phoenix Single Bush) explaining where they come from, how to tell them apart, and what this reveals about their production.

Both beloved by tea drinkers worldwide, in particular gongfu tea freaks, for their intense but nuanced aromas, Yan Cha and Dancong hail from southeast China, throughout Fujian and Guangdong provinces. Wuyi Yan Cha, meaning 'rock tea' or 'cliff tea', comes originally from the Wuyi mountains (Wuyishan) in Fujian, the birthplace of oolong and black tea, whereas Dancong originate in the mountains surrounding Fenghuang village—Fenghuang Dancong translates to 'phoenix single-bush', from the name of the village and the practice of cloning bushes from cuttings. (For more about Chinese tea names, see our video on the subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q49Tl...)
While both are heavily oxidised (darker) oolongs that are rolled lengthwise (i.e. twisted) and roasted, Dancong oolongs are pressed a bit more during rolling, flattening the leaves and making them slenderer than their Yan Cha counterparts. Dancong is also roasted in two styles: Qing Xiang, literally 'clear fragrance', also known as 'bouquet style' or 'floral style'; and Nong Xiang, literally 'robust fragrance', a.k.a. 'traditional style' or 'classic style'. Both are roasted less than Yan Cha leaves, however, which receive their treatment over charcoal, adding extra roasted flavour, and covering up the glossy sheen of the leaves.

GIVEAWAY QUIZ: The first person to answer the question correctly will receive a bag of each of the teas in the video—one Dancong, one Yan Cha! Watch the video to hear the question, and leave your answer in the comments below.

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