Roast Dates: 1st roasting in June 2022, 2nd roasting in July 2022
Region: Phoenix Village, Guangdong, China
Producers:Master Wei Tasting Notes: Toasted oats, malted barley, pine sap, cedar wood, sage, cream
The East is Red is an interesting Dancong Oolong varietal. Originally cultivated during the Maoist Era, the name itself comes from a famous revolutionary song. While this tea is often grown and sold as a gift tea, the quality of this less-common varietal is always stunning for us.
The warmed leaves have deep mineral notes that are sweetened by something more herbaceous, like toasted oats. When warmed, the bouquet opens up like a pine forest after rain, cedar resin and fresh cut wood all mixed with rocky mineral undertones of the volcanic terroir from which this tea grew.
When brewed, the tea is a perfect gold and slightly viscous. The mouthfeel is silky smooth and pleasantly thick offering similar cream and umami notes on the tongue as is found in the more common Duck Shit Fragrance. The pine fragrance from the leaves transmutes in the cup into something more akin to cooking sage and stewed spices. The empty cup holds the aroma of rain on dry stone for a long time.
While the roast is medium-high, the oxidization level of this tea is remarkably low. Toward the end of the session, the green leaves shine through and their vegetal body is unveiled in floral sweetness around the sixth or seventh infusion.
Dong fang Hong has a sweet and savory aroma reminiscent of toasted oats or malted barley. There is a warmth to the brew that is very drinkable, the mouthfeel thick and soothing on the throat. The slow charcoal roast, the old bush minerals, and the green leaf nuances all find noticeable places in the brew. The liquor is a deep gold that gets paler and sweeter with each brew. Due to the old bush and deep roast, the huigan is thick and pronounced. The empty cup has a strong mineral rich aroma like rain on dry stone.
The East is Red is a very popular revolutionary song from Maoist China, and this tea is an homage to that tune and its time.
During the Maoist Era, all the villages in the present day Phoenix Township of Eastern Guangdong were organized into a single massive commune － for two decades this commune produced virtually all of China's Dancong Tea. Although the commune has been defunct now for almost forty years and many of the innovations of that time (including dual-hand picking) have largely disappeared, one tea variety has stood the test of time: "Dongfanghong" AKA the East is Red. This tea was first developed and produced commercially during the height of the Cultural Revolution and has remained in production ever since, though grown now on a relatively small scale.