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The Story Behind the Honey-Sweet Duck Shit Aroma Oolong

Posted by Angelina Kurganska on

A young monk once asked the wise tea master Lao Cha: 
– Sensei, how come such honey-sweet wonderfully aromatic tea that smells like gardenia flowers, is called “Duck Shit Oolong”???
– Sometimes no good things bear nice names, sometimes things are vice versa. Look deeper and beyond the surface if you want to find real treasure. 


High up in the Phoenix Mountains of China’s southeastern Guangdong province is where one might find Duck Shit Oolong. Year-round, these mountains are surrounded by fog and rain, creating perfect moist conditions for the soil to promote this special tea’s growth.

The mountain continuously attracts many tourists traveling not only for the scenic views but also in search of this intriguing Phoenix Oolong Tea.


phoenix mountains


What Makes Dan Cong Oolong Tea Special?


"Dan Cong" means "single bush”. A Dan Cong “garden” is quite different from a typical tea garden. Most tea gardens are made up of short tea bushes which grow in rows, and look almost identical to one another. What makes Dan Cong tea bushes special is their wild nature. No Dan Cong bush is like the other. Furthermore these "bushes" are more like trees, being much taller than the typical tea bush, sometimes reaching 16 ft in height! A Dan Cong Oolong tea garden looks more like the original tea gardens of many centuries back and is a sight of its own. 


Ya Shi Xiang (Duck Shit Aroma) Oolong is a variety of Dan Cong Oolongs. DanCong, literally translated as "single bush", is a special group of varieties of oolong teas cultivated only in the Phoenix Mountains. The most famous Dan Cong Oolong varieties are classified according to their aroma type. Recently, Ya Shi Xiang has been renamed by tea specialists to Yin Hua Xiang, meaning "honeysuckle aroma", due to its honey-like sweetness and floral fragrance. However, the majority of Duck Shit Aroma fans still prefer to stick with its original name. 


Some well-known varieties of Dan Cong Oolong Tea are: 

  • Mi Lan Xiang, honey orchid fragrance
  • Ye Lai Xiang, milky-jasmine fragrance
  • Yu Lan Xiang, magnolia fragrance
  • Xin Ren Xiang, almond fragrance
  • Huang Zhi Xiang, gardenia fragrance 


Although called Duck Shit Aroma Oolong, this tea is exceptionally fragrant and sweet.


These qualities come from the mountain’s exceptional soil, which is perfect for nourishing the ancient tea trees, some of which are up to 600 years old.


The Story of Duck Shit Oolong 


The tale of Duck Shit Oolong tells us exactly how special it is. In fact, so special that farmers would spread lies about their precious tea so that others wouldn’t be tempted to steal it.


The soil on which the tea trees grow has a distinct yellowish-brown color. Thus, the farmers would tell outsiders that this color came from all the duck shit in the soil, hoping to dissuade interest.


For better or for worse, these lies may not have worked as well as the farmers hoped. Soon enough, word about the aromatic Dan Cong Oolong that grows from duck shit had spread far and wide, provoking much interest to try this special tea that leaves such a pleasant, lingering honey-sweetness.


duck shit oolong


Duck Shit Oolong Tea Processing 


Even compared to other DanCong Oolong varieties, Ya Shi Xiang tea leaves are much thicker and larger, but also softer.

After the leaves are harvest they undergo a 6 step process:

  1. sun drying
  2. airing
  3. room temperature oxidation
  4. high temperature fixing 
  5. rolling
  6. drying

Due to the amount of oxidation they undergo, the result yields a long and curly, brownish-golden tea leaves. 


How to Brew Phoenix Mountain Oolong


When brewing this special oolong we recommend using a zisha gaiwan or teapot and aroma cups. This way ensures that the full taste and aroma is extracted from this reputable tea.

After the first steep Phoenix Dan Cong will taste incredibly fresh and sweet, with a light gardenia aroma. With the second infusion, the scent and sweetness become more prominent, promoting the secretion of saliva. Finally, at the third infusion the taste is mellow and full, with a long-lasting aftertaste.