Luxuriously smooth and easy sipping Black with that trademark 'Lao Cong' taste so sought after in the mountains of Wuyi. Made with over 60 year-old Xingcun bushes growing around the legendary Tong Mu village.
'Lao Cong' means 'Old Bush' and refers to tea made from mature bushes. These are highly sought after especially in the mountains of Wuyi, with Lao Cong Shui Xian being one of the most expensive Rock Oolongs you can buy.
There is no official definition of when you are allowed to call a tea 'Lao Cong' but generally, any bush over 50 years old could be thrown under that heading. I prefer to set 60+ years as my definition but others may go all the way up to 100 years.
Whatever the number, a 'Lao Cong' is easily discernible from younger bushes with a thick set of trunks at its base, tall profile, and branches covered in lichens and moss.
'Lao Cong' bushes are usually heirloom cultivars which are well established in the area and therefore tend to be a little less 'managed' and are left to grow in a semi-wild manner.
All of these factors - the age, the wilder and more varied agriculture, the lack of excessive management and the heritage cultivars all lead to top-quality tea with a distinctive taste and texture.
So what is that 'Lao Cong' character in the cup?
In my view, 'Lao Congs' have an extra smooth texture leading to a vaporous and long finish and yet they feel light and easy-sipping. The 'Lao Cong' taste profile is warm with nut-caramels and creams combined with forest notes of moss-covered woods and an intriguing spice of leather, shoe polish and volcanic rocks.
We have never sourced a Lao Cong Shui Xian (Rock Oolong) because I feel that this 'Lao Cong' profile does not perfectly suit that charcoal-roasted Yancha taste (I know that I am in the minority and I hope to be proven wrong someday). I find myself searching for some extra sweetness, florality or fruitiness to counterpoint those warm and woodsy flavours.
And that's why I love this Lao Cong Black tea!
This Old Bush Black has all of those trademark qualities of a Lao Cong but adds a powdery floral brightness, a touch of tamarind fruitiness and a mouthful of maple syrup sweetness. It celebrates the 'Lao Cong' character by adding contrast and maintains that soft, smooth and mellow-sipping indulgence.
Tong Mu does it again - how can this village make so many spectacular Black teas?!