Tea trees mostly are growing among Phoenix Mountains at an altitude between 400 to 1400 meters. The oldest tea trees are believed to be more than 700 years old.
It is time for harvesting the spring crops Phoenix Dancong Oolong at the beginning of April every year. The harvesting takes around one month, lasting from Qing Ming (4-5th April) to Li Xia（5-7th May). There are many cultivars of phoenix Dancong with different buds-sprouting time. Harvesting begins from Bai Ye and Mi Lan Xiang cultivars and ends at Ba Xian and Zhi Lan Cultivars every year.
People should be careful and don't hurt the fresh leaves and branches.
The first step for the production process is sun-drying. If sunlight isn't too strong, sunshade nets can be used. The time length of sun-drying depends on tea cultivars, climate and the water content of the fresh leaves. The water content should be reduced to 85%-90% by means of sun-drying.
After sun-drying, the fresh leaves are to be put on the bamboo trays to cool down in preparation for oxidation.
Locally, oxidation is usually called“Lang Cha". Commonly, there are five times with an interval of two hours. Each time, the oxidation extent depends on the colors and thickness of the leaves, the level of sun-drying, the temperature and humidity of the environment. The experience and skill of the tea masters play a vital role. It is usually manual work for the first four times of oxidation and machines are used last time in Phoenix Town.
After five times oxidation, the leaves are left on the bamboo trays for one night. In the next early Morning, it is time for firing.
Leaves before oxidation:
Leaves after oxidation, Green leaves trimmed with red borders:
The temperature for firing is normally between 200-250°C. The time is about 4 minutes. The temperature should be properly controlled. If too high, the leaves would be burnt. If too low, the color of the leaves would be dull and the end tea would produce turbid tea soup.
The aim of firing is to ruin the activity of enzymes, end oxidation and evaporate water in the leaves by means of high temperature at a weight loss of 20%-30%. At the same time, firing makes the leaves to become soft and it is easy for rolling. After firing, in fact, the essence quality of the Phoenix Oolong has been fixed.
Leaves just coming out of the stove should be stirred in order to give out heat. When leaves become not hot and still warm, it is time for rolling. Rolling lasts about ten minutes with an aim to make leaves tight and neat.
The first time roasting. Temperature is around 110°C. About ten minutes.
Undoing caking again, cooling and second time roasting. The temperature of second time roasting should be slightly lower than the first time roasting. After second time roasting, the preliminarily made tea usually called maocha has been ready.
Maocha(preliminarily made tea) is mixed with yellow old leaves and stems. It is to be hand-selected and third time roasted before it becomes refinement tea(end product).
There are two selecting way, manual work and machine. Manual work can let the tea intact and pure at the cost of low efficiency. Machine is on the contrary. Generally speaking, manual work is adopted when premium phoenix dancong oolong is selected.
Now, the end Phoenxi Dancong oolong is ready finally. Just one look on the appearance of the beautiful leaves, i think it is delicious. Don't you think so? :)