Duckshit Tea - Don’t be fooled by the name, this tea is far from comparison to duckshit in everything but name. In fact it’s an iconic oolong tea from the Phoenix mountains of Guangdong, South China and is so called thanks to its fabled origins. This deceptive name was given to put off tea poachers, looking to get their hands on the original tea bushes – and it’s stuck ever since.
Thanks to its expert processing Organic Phoenix Duckshit is a noticeably complex tea with flavours that draws you in. There’s naturally sweet hints of barley sugar and candied peaches as well as warming roasted notes. This is a tea that’s easy to drink and one that’s sure to satisfy oolong tea lovers, old and new.
Origin: Gaoyuan garden, Chaozhou, Guangdon, China
Cultivar: Camellia sinensis var. sinensis ‘Ya Shi Xiang’
Name: ‘Duckshit’ refers to the tea bush varietal from which this tea is crafted. It was named by the original tea farmer, to put off rivals out to poach the best tasting bushes from their neighbour’s garden.
Style: Medium oxidised, roasted oolong.
Terroir: Grown in an organic garden which is surrounded by lush green forest in the prestigious Phoenix mountains.
Picking Season: Spring
Infusion: A pink-edged tawny nectar.
What’s Special About Phoenix Oolongs?
If your new to oolong teas, they’re a style of medium-oxidised tea. So not quite a green tea, not a black tea, but in between the two. The Phoenix mountains are a well-known area of China for oolong production. They lie near the city of Chaozhou, close to the south China coast. The soil is rich in minerals and this is can be seen in the reddish hues of the earthy mountains, which can reach up to 900m in elevation.
The tea makers of Phoenix produce a style of lightly roasted oolongs almost exclusively. These are often fruity, floral and complex, but it all comes down to the unique varieties of tea bushes grown here. Many of which have been selectively bred by local farmers for their unique flavour. The best, new tea bushes are often given names that reflect their taste, like Phoenix Honey Orchid, which tastes of orchids and honey. This is another reason why the ‘Duckshit’ varietal is so renowned, in that it tastes nothing like its name.
The tea bushes in Phoenix are also left to grow taller than in other gardens around China. So rather than manicured rows of bushes, they tend to take the shape of small trees and groves. These can be left to grow like this for centuries – their leaves ripening and deepening in flavour over the decades.
How did we source this Organic batch and who made it?
This batch comes from tea maker Huang Shuwei whose organic garden lies in the village of Gaoyuan around 600m up in the mountains, surrounded by luscious green hills. An expert in oolong, Huang likes to grow a variety of tea bush cultivars in his garden, all of which are handpicked in the spring (around April to May) and laboriously crafted into fragrant Phoenix oolong tea. To craft this particular tea, the leaves must undergo a variety of complex processes. Each one is overseen by Huang who knows these processes intuitively, using all his senses to move the tea through each stage.
He starts by withering the leaves on bamboo mats in the afternoon sun. This allows the natural moisture to evaporate and for the leaves to become more workable for the next phase. They are then tumbled by hand and with small machines, on and off, over a period of a five hours. This causes the leaves to bruises and allows them to lightly oxidise, concentrating their fragrance and taste. Once Huang is happy with their oxidation, the leaves are fired at a high heat for 10-15 minutes to lock in their flavour and stop any further oxidation. After which they’re rolled and dried to create the characteristic, long and twisted leaf shape.
The final and most important step is to carefully roast the tea. This is what imparts the true character of Phoenix oolongs – their depth and complexity. The roast will happen in stages, up to three of four times with periods of resting in between. Each roast can last from 2 to 10 hours and Huang will use all of his experience to craft the finished tea.
What is this batch like to drink?
The aroma of this tea is instantly recognisable as a Phoenix oolong. It’s sweet, floral and has hints of warmth from the roasted leaves. But when I first got to taste this particular batch of Duckshit the aroma also had some unique notes that took me right back to childhood sweet shops. If you’re like me and have a sweet tooth, the notes of butterscotch, barley sugar and peach drops are mouth-watering.
The taste is layered with upfront, fruity sweetness and a characteristic touch of astringency. This slight dryness is not a problem with the best Phoenix oolongs. As the smooth texture makes it a pleasing quality which adds to the complex taste. It’s an oolong tea that’s satisfying, easy to drink, with a flavour that really sits in a world all its own.
Where and when do I recommend drinking this tea?
This tea is an all-rounder. I’d recommend it whenever you need something uplifting, as it’s bright, fruity taste always puts a smile on my face. It’s also got enough roasted warmth to enjoy on cooler evenings when you need something cosy and comforting. Definitely pair it with fruit cakes and tarts for an extra, sticky-sweet tea experience.
How to get the best Duckshit taste
Tea Master (Gong Fu):
You’ll find every tea farmer in Phoenix enjoying their teas ‘gong fu’ style. Which means using a small teapot or a Gaiwan, with a high proportion of leaf to water and preparing multiple short infusions. Making tea in this way delivers a more concentrated view of the flavours and aromas. For this tea you’ll find an even deeper, fruity sweetness in the aroma and the warmth from the roast will be richer too.
The first infusion, is soft and smooth, with each subsequent infusion ramping up with more complex notes as the leaves begin to open up. From peaches, honeysuckle and jam to hints of fresh biscuits and honey, there’s so much to enjoy and explore with this tea. Just remember to maintain the right temperature throughout the infusions to get the best results.
Here’s how I do gong-fu in the Tea Master:
5g per 120ml; 95˚C; 40 seconds for the 1st infusion, then 20 seconds for the 2nd, adding 10 seconds incrementally for each subsequent infusion (at least 10 infusions).
Who is this Duckshit tea for?
This tea is for those who like the sweeter end of the tea spectrum. If you’re a fan of Taiwanese oolongs like creamy and tropical tasting Ali Shan, then you’ll love the similar fruit notes and texture of this tea. Likewise, if you already love Phoenix Honey Orchid then this is a must-try for even more varied notes and a richer taste. Finally, if you’re a fan of the crisp, fruity and refreshing Darjeeling teas (who isn’t!) and looking for what to try next, here’s your answer.
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Organic Phoenix Duckshit
A smooth and syrupy tea, full of tropical fruit aromas and sweet, dessert-like notes. Don't be fooled by the name, this prized ‘duckshit’ cultivar is revered among the misty Phoenix mountains for its elegant and complex taste.