Clearing Up a Common Mistake: What Dan Cong Really Means

A customer came into the teahouse yesterday with a common misconception. He had been to another tea shop where he was told that Feng Huang Shan (Phoenix Mountain) dan cong tea came from a single tree or single grove of trees. Actually, while dan cong (单丛) literally means "single bush," it doesn't refer to how the tea was picked. It's a botanical term relating to the morphology of the tea bush. While most tea bushes emerge from the ground in a cluster of branches, the uncommon dan cong variety emerges as a single trunk that branches off higher up the stem.

Unfortunately, tea sellers who have never visited tea farms and don't know tea all the way from the farm to the cup have misinterpreted the literal meaning of the Chinese characters and spread misinformation about dan cong tea. These inaccuracies have quickly propagated via the internet. If you've ever been to a tea farm or seen tea bushes out in the wild, you know that with a typical ratio of 8-10 kilos of fresh tea leaves required to make a kilo of tea, there's no way a single bush could generate a marketable quantity of tea, even if you killed it by stripping off virtually every leaf!

Imperial Tea Court Teamaster Roy Fong, the source of our information on dan cong, has spent over 20 years in the tea business, much of it in China's tea-growing regions. As a result, he has deep, hands-on knowledge of every detail of the production of the tea we sell. When there's a question we can't answer, we take it all the way back to the source, often back to the farmer himself. That's why we say you can rely on the information we provide to guide your process of learning about the fascinating and diverse universe of tea.

By the way, we have some terrific dan cong this year, including the ultra-rare, ginger-scented Jiang Mu Xiang, intensely floral Bai Ye, and deliciously sweet, honey-like Huang Zhi Xiang. If you aren't well acquainted with this member of the oolong family you'll be rewarded by taking a closer look...and taste!