Sunday, May 11, 2008

Phoenix Mtn Journey

We arrived into Shantou amidst Olympic fever again, the torch coming through. The roads were closed and traffic mingled with a parade of patriotic flag wavers. I have never seen so many China flags waved so wholeheartedly. I mean, I have seen China flags waved in my childhood, as well as lots of slogans shouted. It was, sort of different.

Chao Zhou, Phoenix Mountain, is the original land of ‘gong fu’ tea, where people drink tea all day all night and every single day. The old tea trees are hundreds of years old on the average, all of the Qiao Mu tree types that are rare and unlike the cultivated bush types we have seen so far. Every tree has its own distinct fragrance. There are about 13 well known ones.
We tasted this year’s Almond Phoenix Oolong, as well as three grades of Honey Phoenix, and then, we were blown away completely when Mr. Lin recommended this year’s best: Pommelo Flower Phoenix. Sure, our customers will instantly recognize that obvious fragrance of Pommelo Flowers, no?
Distinct, a full mouth fragrance permeating every taste bud, and the indescribable lingering finish that is both sweet and smooth as brocade. Citrus flower fragrances usually float along gently and wafts softly for a long distance. That describes the fragrance of the Pommelo Flower Phoenix as it slides slowly down my throat. Very soothing, and, confides Mr. Lin, great for bronchial illnesses! Of course this tea only costs about 100 times more than a bottle of Robitussin. Thank goodness it’s about a million times better tasting though.
Most Americans would never taste the range of flavors that Phoenix teas have to offer, so what we should do this year is sample a cross section of at least 8 different kinds. The high grades never leave the local area, where business men and government officials recognize the quality of these teas and would gladly pay over 2000 to 4000 rmbs for about a lb. of tea. That’s about $300 to $600 a lb. The ones that make it out are grown at the base of the mountain and not actually considered ‘Phoenix Mountain’, but only ‘Shui Xian’, Water Immortal Oolongs. Certain large organizations purportedly provide Phoenix Mountain Oolongs. Mr. Lin proudly told me that he can give me a whole 10 kgs. of the Pommelo Flower Oolong this year! You see, if, say Starbucks served Phoenix Oolongs, that quantity would have lasted exactly 1 hour. But then again, which major American organization would pay that much for real Phoenix Oolongs?
Mr. Lin won first place last year in the competition with his Honey Phoenix. Sadly, he didn’t bother to enter this year because his harvest was picked 2 days too late, therefore the leaves were just a little too large and uneven for the competition.
We will take this reject batch, I told him, gladly.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the lovely account of your buying adventure. It sounds like a great experience tasting these limited oolongs