Every so often, especially when placing an order with an astronomical shipping rate, I impulse-buy a tea based on name alone. Ya Shi Xiang Dan Cong normally wouldn't trigger such a reaction, but the translated name "King of Duck Shit Aroma" definitely captured my interest.
When thinking of oolong, many of us immediately think of the nuclear green, tightly-rolled balls of Taiwanese tea. Chinese oolongs are usually uniformly rolled in long leaves and are heavily oxidized (60%-85%). Chinese oolong mainly comes from two regions, the Wuyi Mountains between Fujian & Jiangxi provinces, and on and around Phoenix Mountain (Feng Huang Shan) located in eastern Guangdong province.
Dan Cong, "dan" single and "cong" bush, implies a hand-crafted approach to tea making. In fact (thanks to the /r/tea subreddit) dan cong actually refers to trees that are not grown in plantations, like "wild" or "arbor" trees. Any tea can be "dan cong" but it typically refers to Phoenix Oolongs. There are over 80 cultivars that originated in the Phoenix Mountain region, with names based on the aroma that the tea gives off. Rou Gui (Cinnamon Aroma) is one that I've also had, though I had a Wuyi sample. Po Tou Xiang (Ginger Flower Aroma) and Huang Zhi Xiang (Orange Blossom Aroma) are also examples.
Which brings us to duck shit. I had been wanting to try Duck Shit Oolong for a while now, and had the opportunity while buying teaware on Yunnan Sourcing. According to YS the tea is:
Ya Shi Xiang Dan Cong or "King of Duck Shit Aromoa" is named because (drum roll).... of the yellow-brown soil in the area. Legend has it that the tea is named as such in order to protect the tea from outsiders and thieves. This makes sense, especially since there is another Phoenix Oolong called Zei Shi or Thief Shit.
The dry leaf was not overly powerful. It had a pretty light roasted smell for a Phoenix or Wuyi Oolong tea, and was very sweet and chocolaty smelling. I did not do a rinse and paid the price - this tea needs a rinse to get the initial, overpoweringly bitter taste off. The second infusion yielded a much more pleasant experience. The brewed tea was quite sweet still, and very pungent. It's an abrasive tea that you could either start a cult around or throw in the trash. For me? I enjoyed the experience but I wasn't overwhelmingly impressed by it. I will certainly be drinking the rest of it, however I did not enjoy it more than the Wuyi teas that I've had. I'm certainly interested in finding more Phoenix Oolongs in the future though, as I found the Duck Shit to be really flavorful.
I hope that this review wasn't too much of a let-down. I assume that everyone wants me to describe in overly descriptive terms what duck shit smells like. Unless it smells like chocolate malts and honey, I'm afraid I disappointed you!