Dan Cong Oolong Tea: Legend, History & Origin
Dan Cong is a famous category of oolong teas from the phoenix mountain, in Guangdong. Oolongs from this region are considered the biggest competitors of oolong teas from Fujian's Wuyishan tea region. Especially, in the past years, Dan Cong has become increasingly popular. Like many other famous Chinese teas, there’s a legend to be told about its origin.
Emperor Zhao Bing’s Elixir
During the Song dynasty, emperor Zhao Bing fled to the Wu Dong Mountain (乌岽山) during a war. At that time he was just a small little child.
According to a myth, the farmers there found him in bad shape. He was dehydrated and locals quickly let him chew on the leaves from the tea bushes. This didn’t only quenched his thirst, but allowed him to regain some energy, which was sufficient to survive until he got treatment back in the village.
Due to this miracle, Dan Cong tea was referred to as the the Tea of Song (宋茶 'Song Cha') and later also named the Song cultivar (宋种 'Song Zhong') raising the potential status of Dan Cong to an imperial level.
The Fall of Song
However, it took hundreds of years before Dan Cong became a tribute tea. Zhao Bing unfortunately wasn’t able to survive the war and return the favor to the local farmers. As according to historical records he jumped into the sea and died at an age of 8, consequently resulting in the fall of the Song Dynasty. Luckily his body was found by a Monk of the Tin Hau (Queen of Heaven) temple in Shenzhen, Guangdong. See pictures of the temple below.
Zhao Bing eventually got buried nearby (below a picture of the Mausoleum).
How To Visit?
The Zhao Bing Mausoleum and the Tin Hau temple can still be visited today in Shenzhen. It's also very easy to reach from Hong Kong by Ferry to the Shenzhen Shekou Border.
From the Shenzhen Shekou Port take a 5 min taxi ride to the temple: Googlemaps Link. You may show the taxi driver these characters '天后博物馆'.
You may allow about 30-60 minutes at the temple. Afterwards, it's a short walk to the Zhao Bing Mausoleum: Googlemaps link. Alternatively you can take a taxi and show these characters to the drivers '宋少帝陵' (or ask locals for walking directions).
The Rise of Dan Cong tea in the Qing Dynasty
It was during the reign of emperor Jia Qing (image below) in the Qing Dynasty, when the Dan Cong bushes finally where rewarded for their ultimate quality. The tea region began to develop into a more mature production region, and more trees where planted. With pressure as well as financial support from the emperor, the trees enjoyed exceptional care. As a result they naturally grew into large ancient trees which you can still observe today.
Interested to try out this legendary tea? Visit our Dan Cong tea page to buy tea online direct from the Phoenix mountain! For more information about the different types, you may read our expert article on Dan Cong tea types & classification.
You may also be interested in: The Origin of Oolong tea (in this article we discuss the 3 competing theories of where oolong tea originated from).