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We just placed an order for very unique types of Phoenix Lao Cong Shui Xian. It is the Shui Xian collected from old tea tree, and undergoing four times baking. The entire baking process takes one year for production. I am only able to receive this tea in next year.

It is the baking that composes the unique characteristic of Phoenix oolong

The key process in making Phoenix Dan Cong oolong is baking the tea at lower temperature for a long time. Some people might associate the word “baking” to “burnt” or “roast”. For making Phoenix oolong, it is totally different concept.
The objective of baking is not to burn tea but to cause maturation and bring out the fruity flavor of tea. The skilled tea master manages the temperature below 100 degree C, and in order to produce tea with the ideal fruity flavor, the baking has to be conducted for a very long time. One may think that to set the temperature is just set the temperature once, and it’s so easy. This is only applicable if it refers to electric oven with control panel. In making Phoenix oolong, the ultimate Phoenix oolong comes from the baking with charcoal fire.
It is so hard to manage the consistent temperature with charcoal fire. As a result, a number of manufacturers intentionally or may be unintentionally use temperature above 100 degree, or they will choose to use the electric oven for baking. The electric oven does bring up quite nice flavor. But in term of tea taste, it is incomparable with outcome of the charcoal fire. The taste of tea baked with charcoal fire is very clear and long lasting.
Our Phoenix tea lineups are all baked using charcoal fire.

The above photo shows single fired Phoenix tea

Double fired Phoenix Oolong

Depending on the preference of the market and customers, the manufacturer will adjust the extent of baking. We usually select each type of Phoenix tea and we will decide the baking extent based on the market’s need and the characteristic of tea.
The Phoenix tea baked at shorter period of time is called Qing Xiang (in Chinese it means refreshing flavor). It gives floral and uplifting flavor. We also have the lineup called Double-fired. It is called Nong Xiang (in Chinese means Thick flavor).
Some people might think that the double-fired tea is heavily fired, and so tea has a scorched flavor or charcoal-like flavor. The fact is that the well-made double fired (Nong Xiang) Phoenix tea is supposed to give no burnt flavor, but it has strikingly thick fruity flavor like stone fruit, with a clear and sweetish drinking sensation on palate. In order to achieve this flavor and taste profile, it is essential to bake tea below 100 degree Celsius for long hours. It requires intensive care and attention during the long baking hours and the tea master has to closely monitor the temperature continuously. The well-managed baking process brings upon a clear fruity flavor without a hint of burnt or charcoal note, even after tea is baked for 24 hours.

Double Fired Phoenix Oolong

4 times fired Shu Xian loved by the people in Shantou city

There are two big cities located nearby the production area of Phoenix tea. They are Chaozhou and Shantou city. Generally, Chaozhou people prefer the thick-fruity flavor with double fired, while in Shantou traditionally people prefer three to four times fired tea.
To bake tea for four times, the tea manufacturer is unable to complete it continuously as the moisture content in tea is going to be too low. The tea will be baked once, and then it is kept away to rest for about three months before the next baking in order to let the tea reabsorb the moisture.

We placed the special order for the four times fired Shui Xian

Generally, the four times fired Shui Xian processed for Shantou market not very high grade. The high-end Shui Xian such as Lao Cong Shui Xian is fired one or two times and it is sold in Chaozhou city. Even if it is not the high grade Shui Xian, I was so impressed by its unique drinking sensation and the distinctive characteristic in flavor. It gives very mellow mouth feel like vintage oolong, with bold and thick-matured dried fruity note filled up our palate and its lingering sweetness lasts for a long time. When I tasted, I thought I did not mind buying it even if it was of lower grade. However, the lower grade Phoenix oolong is often collected from the garden that is located at the lower altitude. As a trend, the pesticide is often detected in the tea collected from lower altitude. I was also curious to experience how the flavor of high-grade Shui Xian will be if it is fired 4 times. I selected the Lao Cong Shui Xian mao-cha and placed a special order to bake it four times, which the whole baking process will takes a year to complete. This tea will only be ready when we visit them again in next year.

In near future, I am also wishing to run the baking experiment using Mi Lan Xiang. Out of my curiosity I am eager to find out how the flavor will be when this tea is baked three or four times.

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