HU ZAI 8 IMMORTALS is a dancong oolong made on Hu Zai mountain, a name locals use for a specific hillside of Wudong Shan in the Pheonix mountains of Chaozhou, Guangdong, China. This production is of ba xian cultivar tea trees—"eight immortals", a Taoist reference to the supposed 8 original varietals of tea plant used to make dancong. Mysticism (always) aside, there are relatively few dancong producers not making ba xian—it's hardy growing, with an unchallenging flavor profile perfect for newcomers to the genre.
This lot comes to us from the Cai family at Hu Zai tea farm, a midsize organic operation churning out dancong standards in the old world style. The trees used are middle-aged, around 70-80 years old. HU ZAI 8 IMMORTALSundergoes classic dancong styling (pluck, controlled whither, hand-roll, and baked to dry) with a slightly heavier bruise that imparts a pronounced "cong wei" (a woodsy quality in older tree dancong and yancha). More highly oxidized than the Cai's duck shit, their eight immortals is user-friendly but packed with enough cha qi to keep dancong regulars on their toes through a session.
Most dancong lots drop from August through October, when spring productions have been rested and are ready for fresh post-production roasting. Because what's left of this 2018 lot is not sufficient to justify another round of baking, we're letting this tea shed its roast in favor of its inherent yeast and burnt bread crust qualities. Expect a drying sensation when pushed with near-boiling water for 2-3 minutes, lighter sugars and graham cracker when flash steeped with slightly cooler water.