Wulong Oolong (烏龍品種, Wūlóng Pǐn Zhǒng, "Dark Dragon Cultivar") - Every time I go to China, I come back knowing more about tea than when I left, but feeling like I know less. This is because I will often discover things that I had previously never heard of or conceived of, and also because I learn new facts about tea that seem like they should have been completely fundamental. Every time this happens, it's like cresting a mountain only to find that what you thought was the summit is actually just a minor peak, and that a monumental, unexplored territory remains before you. Lin Yaobin, a 6th-Generation Phoenix Mountain tea farmer and tea master, introduced Wūlóng to me in 2019. I've known Lin since 2013 and have been drinking oolong since before I can remember. In all my years of drinking, serving, and studying Chinese tea, I had always thought of oolong as just the name of a category of semi-oxidized teas. Imagine my surprise when Lin served me a tea that he simply called "Oolong." When I pressed him for details, he told me "...Oolong. Oolong is the name of this breed. It is the ancestor of all oolongs." Never in my travels nor research had I ever heard mention of a breed of oolong called Wūlóng, nor that the entire category takes its name from this specific plant. The Phoenix Mountains boast the oldest lineages of the family of tea plants that are used to produce oolongs. Apparently Wūlóng 烏龍 ("Dark Dragon") gave rise to a cultivar called Hóng Yīn 紅因 ("Amanita"), which then begat Shuǐ Xiān 水仙 ("Water Immortal"), from which the ten original Phoenix plants descend. Shuǐ Xiān and other descendents of Wūlóng made their way eastward, through Fujian, giving rise to the Wuyi and Anxi Oolong lineages. Once commonly grown, cultivation of Wūlóng has all but disappeared in recent years. This is because, unlike its highly-selected descendents, which had been bred for high-yield among other qualities, Wūlóng has a very small annual output: roughly two-fifths the size of other Phoenix Oolongs. Lin Yaobin's Wūlóng is harvested from abandoned groves of unknown age. Lin estimates they could be more than a century old. True to its distinctive pedigree, the flavor and fragrance of Wūlóng are quite different than other Phoenix Oolongs: its broad, floral nose is dominated by orchid notes, and its mouthfeel is extremely soft, lacking the astringency of some Phoenix varietals. It is lightly-oxidized with petite, light-green leaves, and a character that almost shares more with a Taiwanese Baozhong or a wilted Guizhou Green than other Phoenixes. A rare and remarkable edition to our catelogue.