Previous in series: Tieh Kuan Yin (Ti Quan Yin)
Superior oolong is also made from these two varieties of Camellia sinensis which seem to grow nowhere outside of China. The Shuixian (also known as Water Sprite or Narcissus) plant is grown mainly in Fujian. It has a single trunk and few branches whose thick, glossy leaves require special processing. Even better tea, I think, is made from Fenghuang Dancong (Phoenix Select), a straight-trunk tea tree native to Guangdong that grows so tall that ladders must be used to pluck the leaf. Though seldom exported, Hairy Crab (Maoxi), Big Red Robe (Da Hong Pao), Little Red Robe and various other oolong cultivars are also known in China. The differences among these oolongs as to fragrance, body, flavor and color are just as readily perceptible as the differences among the red wines of Burgundy, Bordeau, the Rhone, and so forth. These may be made in pots or guywans but all taste their best when prepared gongfu style, as the Chinese do.
Next week we examine China Black