Sometimes, I think the ancient Chinese are trolling us from beyond their ancestral graves. How else do you explain an oolong that is – essentially – a poop joke?
Yashi Xiang (Duck Shit Fragrance) Dan Cong is an oolong hailing from Guangdong province, China. I first learned of it from fellow weird tea friend, Greg “Norbu Tea” Glancy. (As in, he’s into weird teas, like me; not that he – himself – is weird . . . like me. I don’t think?) I spotted a conversation on Twitter that he was having with a client, and caught wind of the words “duck shit”. That made my inner eleven-year-old perk up.
He didn’t have any of the stuff, but I filed that bit of tea knowledge away for future use. Roughly two years later, I was contacted by Paul “Two Dog Tea Blog” Murray. The message read, “I should probably send you some tea, shouldn’t I?” (Or something to that effect.) I had no idea I was someone folks had to send tea to . . . but okay.
He was one of my favorite types of folks, a tea blogger that decided to make the plunge into selling tea. His focus: Unique pu-erhs and – if necessity dictated – odd oolongs and black teas.
The name of his op? White 2 Tea. I had no idea what that stood for, and I forgot to ask. All I knew was that he had a wicked sense of humor, and that he was based in Beijing, China. That and his branding kicked ass. Case in point: This was the label for his Yashi Xiang Dan Cong.
I want that duck (with turd) as a tea pet.
The funny thing about this “Duck Shit” oolong is that it didn’t look like duck shit. I even did an image search for comparative reference. (I will spare you – fine readers – of that visual experience.) Nope, the leaves were definitely not reminiscent of water fowl’s . . . uh . . . foul. I could’ve spared myself that delightful search if I’d just read the product notes.
The yashi referred to the fragrance of the leaves, not the appearance of them. I also found this decidedly odd because – having been a precocious child once – I remember what duckscrement smelled like. Up close. This was not the same.
The leaves were large and spindly, resembling a large leaf Yunnan hong cha rather than an oolong. There were even gold-tipped bits to the leaves, which further confused the issue. The supposed fowl feces-inspired aroma was actually . . . floral and buttery. So, I’m chalking this naming scheme to being a rather ancient joke pulled on unsuspecting buyers. And bloggers with way too much time on their hands.
Measuring the leaves out for brewing was a chore, due to the average leaf size. Neither a teaspoon nor a tablespoon could cut it. In the end, I had to guesstimate a gaiwan’s brew of about a small half-handful, and then boiled the water. I utilized as close to a gongfu-style prep as possible.
All three infusions brewed up to a warm medium-amber liquor with the same floral aroma on the dry leaves. Whereas most Dan Congs exhibited a requisite tartness on the first sip, this had a crisp introduction, followed closely by a bit of astringency, and trailed off to a creamy/minerally nuanced tug-‘o-war. Further infusions deepened with notes of apricot . . . but still subtle. All steeps had a lingering sweetness on aftertaste. No notes of poo.
Not really sure how to end this, appropriately. As far as ancient poop jokes go, this was delicious. I was already a massive fan of Dan Congs, but now I was positively overflowing with good will toward them. All negative emotions flushed away.
Hehe . . . duck shit . . . okay, that’s funny.
Thank you for your detailed, careful analysis in comparing Duck Poo with the Yashi Xiang Dan Cong :X
Hahahah, you’re welcome.
Does this mean you have too much time on your hands? 😉 Glad it didn’t taste like the name!
Sometimes WAY too much time.
Just to clarify: I AM, in fact, a proudly weird person…as well as a fan of weird tea. We’re brothers in weirdness. For sure.
Definitely! You’re so money, you don’t even know it.
This was my favorite tea when I worked at the tea house, mostly because of the reactions that the name would get. I’ve heard a few versions of how this tea got its name. One story is that the farmer who invented it didn’t want anyone to copy his tea so he named it something that no one would want. Another one is that the area where the tea is grown is frequented by ducks who poop under the tea trees 🙂
Damn, I wish I’d known these earlier. I would’ve incorporated them . . . and made less poop jokes. Oh well.
You missed the good old duck.
I was always more of a Daffy guy.
I never understood either of them (in English obviously).
Blog To Taste
Oh duck poop, what a funny tea name! I kept waiting for you to reference the smell of Sauvies Island water (which is heavily influenced by duck po0), I can’t stop laughing and thinking about how not great that (Sauvies) tea tastes! I’m glad that the tea you drank was delicious!
I reviewed this tea in the aromatic city of Rotorua, New Zealand last week. It was a pleasant surprise compared to the rotten egg odour of this sulphite city. And yes, I bought the tea for its curious name (and faith in the good taste of a dan cong).
Yep, I just saw your review on it. I didn’t know the name was literally KING of Duck Shit Aroma. That just makes it more amazing.