I’ve never read “The Secret Garden”, but have always been drawn to its cover. There is always a young girl holding a key, and unlocking a crusty, rusty lock in a hidden, weathered wooden door, which is set into a crumbling red brick wall, crawling with twisted vines and tumbles of red roses and knots of delicate little white petals. You know that inside, it’s going to be cool, green, and earthy, with riots of colour bursting from every surface, and with the birds and the bees buzzing in their private dance from trees to tulips, to flowers, to fruits. It’s such a mysterious and romantic image… I kind of don’t want to read the book, because I’m in love with the idea and the image of the ‘secret garden’ itself. I don’t really want to know what happens inside. I just like to stand at the secret doorway and imagine… it’s a secret, you see…
I think that garden must smell like this tea. I open the package and it smells earthy, with mysterious flowery hints. It’s dark and rich, with patches of dappled sunshine where you catch glimpses of apples, peaches, and golden honey.
I’ve been cautioned that this is a delicate tea which can’t be overbrewed. I rinse the leaves to open them up, and then steep it for a short time, under 30 seconds. As I wait, I notice the floral notes, but it also smells like honey to me.
The taste is pure and earthy, with hints of apples and florals… not as strong as jasmine or rose, but equally enchanting. There is a sweet after-taste, still of honey.
This is a beautiful, delicately perfume-y oolong which I would be happy to serve to friends. It’s not strong, weird, or frightening. It’s a great pick-me-up!
Sincere thanks to Tea Classico who provided me with this sample, as well as tips on brewing, and a little information about the (somewhat confusing) name!
( I did a little research and I think I have it all figured out now. Please correct me if I’m wrong… the internet is a confusing and conflicted place: Song Zhong = originates in Song Dynasty… old and top quality, Zhilan Xiang = orchid fragrance… there are many different ‘fragrances’ in this category, Dan Cong = single bush… and these various ‘fragrance’ teas are also called “Feng Huan Dan Cong” which means they are from Phoenix Mountain in Guangdong, China… Whew!! It’s a lot to learn!)