Big Dark Leaf (大烏葉, Dà Wū Yè, "Big Dark Leaf") - Big Dark Leaf gets its name from its distinctive foliage. The large, deep-green leaves stand out in a field of various cultivars of Phoenix Oolong. This classic breed is a personal favorite of A Long, the 4th-generation Chaozhou tea master who produces this and many of our other Dan Cong oolongs. This friendly, approachable oolong is an excellent daily drinker, with notes of dark brown sugar, sweet ginger biscuit, and caramelized pineapple juice. The flavor is smooth and mellow with a pronounced ginger-like cooling sensation in the throat, a sweet and juicy mouthfeel, and a mild, centering Qi. If Jamaican ginger beer were a tea, this would be it.
I'll be gosh darn but the description of "if Jamaican ginger beer were a tea this would be it" is spot on... This very approachable, easy to brew Oolong is exceedingly forgiving, so it would make an excellent introduction to the genre, and the flavor is absolutely fantastic. The beautiful, mineralic roastiness of the rinse and first steeping quickly unfolds into a rich, sugary, spicy, lightly perfumed liquor with a soft, coating mouthfeel and, sure enough, that cooling but also warming and spicy tingle that is indeed strikingly reminiscent of well made ginger beer. (It's kind of uncanny, to be honest...) The taste is deeply satisfying, the hui gan rich and long lasting, the smell captivating (ginger beer, oud, something a bit like gardinia and a bit like magnolia but (to my nose anyway) more interesting than either, and a touch of orchid and aged vetivert anyone? Bloody divine...), and the mouthfeel clean yet satisfying (good opera cake comes to mind, for some reason), and the tea unfolds beautifully with each facet coming forward in its own way to make new and interesting combinations with each brewing. Eventually after a good number of steeps (ten to twelve seems to be average) the mineral and roast notes, with a lingering touch of flowers, ginger, and caramel, are all that's left, but even then those are pleasant so altogether a delightful experience that I can't praise enough. Wonderful leaves, and for the price it's a steal so highly, highly reccomended as part of a daily drinker stash for all my fellow Pheonix Oolong lovers. Snag some, you won't regret it...