Annie Celebrates Volition Tea’s 1st Anniversary & I Taste Black Jade Dan Cong Wulong

Dan Cong tea is widely known and celebrated for its broad lexicon of aromas. In addition to the Shan Yun (山韵) or Mountain Rhyme felt with high-quality Dan Cong teas, the versatility they bring almost guarantees that you’ll find one to fall in love with. It is an exciting endeavor to attempt to taste them all! Annie of Volition tea recently launched Black Jade, a Da Wu Ye (Big Dark Leaf) Dan Cong, and asked if I would spend some time reflecting on this tea! I’d like to start by providing an overview of Dan Cong tea before getting into my reflection and a brief interview with Annie as Volition Tea celebrates 1 year!


Our journey begins in Guangdong Province, China. Specifically, it is the Feng Huang Shan or Phoenix Mountain that holds the magic of Dan Cong tea within its region. Wudongshan is a high-peaked mountain within the Feng Huang Shan area known for the highest quality Dan Cong tea. Dan Cong refers to a style of strip-shaped oolong production where leaves are plucked and processed from single trees or a Mother Tree. Growing into prominence from the Song Dynasty (960-1279), the original plants are thought to have been bred by seed over ~700-900 years ago in the Phoenix Mountain region and have been harvested and processed individually since, hence the name, Dan Cong or, “single stem”. The name also shines a light on the tea tree trunk as opposed to terraced tea gardens; as a single trunk extends its roots deep within the Phoenix Mountain soil, picking up essential phytonutrients and aromatic compounds. Minerals such as calcium, manganese, selenium, and potassium provide a density of flavor not found in low-mineral soils. Nurtured by lichen, moss, damp vegetation, and a sand-soil mixture, the optimal conditions lend themselves to the renowned status these teas possess.

Tea farmers noticed that each plant produced tea that tasted unique, providing a long list of varied options and experiences. Since the plants were named after the fragrance of the finished teas they produced, Dan Cong teas are a wonderful example of selective breeding.

Below are just a few of the common Dan Cong teas you can expect to find in your tea journey!

With our review of just how unique Dan Cong teas are, let’s take a look at Black Jade sourced by Annie!


Season: April 15, 2022
Cultivar: Da Wu Ye (Big Dark Leaf)
Origin: Phoenix Mountain, Guangdong, China. Produced by Lin Zhi Min
Picking/Processing: Up to the 3rd and 4th leaves
Elevation: 600 m


My Brewing Parameters
Leaf/Water Ratio – 3.5 g for 50 mL
Starting Temp – 100°C
Infusion time(s) – Flash (1-3) 5-10 sec. 4th +

Eyes Dry: Long, slender, rolled charcoal grey leaves with gold, espresso-brown, and moss-green colors
Nose Dry: Floral
Nose Wet: Gardenia, stewed tomatoes, mineral
Eyes Liquor: Soft peach-orange core, and green ring
Mouth Texture: Thick, oily,
Mouth Taste: Gardenia, apricot, petrichor
Nose Cup: Candied pear, sugar biscuit
Mouth Finish: Lingering floral sweetness, and lasting dryness
Eyes Wet: Green core with red and plum edges and copper tips,
Body Sensation: Feeling of contentment, warmth in the chest and arms

This Da Wu Ye Dan Cong is explosive in fragrance not only through the aroma but more importantly, after sipping. The gardenia and mineral crispness of this tea are tremendous when packing the vessel and quickly steeping – a method I enjoy using with these teas. Black Jade is a bold tea that works well in the Dan Cong portfolio Annie has.


Volition Tea is celebrating its 1st anniversary this month! I sat down with Annie to not only discuss the Black Jade but also reflect on the last year and the many ways her brand has grown! Read on to hear all the ways she is connecting with the community on a special day!

I’ve been fortunate to taste a number of teas with you in the sampling process – what stood out to you when tasting and choosing Black Jade?

It’s a superb wulong, especially with its exuberant gardenia flower aroma. It triggers a special memory from my early childhood. I also love the story of the farmer which reminds me a lot of my dad. He is way past retirement age but still working because he is so passionate about what he does—definitely a lot of personal sentiments that went into the decision in sourcing this tea.

The 1st anniversary of Volition Tea is nearly upon us! How are you celebrating?

We have so much in store for our tea community!

Locally, we are throwing a party to celebrate on Oct 13 here in our home base in Chicago. In response to popular demand, we will be opening up private tea sessions in Chicago for a more intimate experience with the teas we carry.

Nationwide, we are collaborating with our friends at Second City Meadery (SCM) to release a new tea mead made with Red Jade and orange blossom honey. It will be available for purchase through SCM. We are doing an exciting IG giveaway of a Gongfu tea set with a vegan leather bag as an appreciation for the staunch support we received in the past year.

Because we do ship worldwide, tea friends from around the world can not only meet our new Ba Ma Raw Pu’er, they should definitely take advantage of our anniversary sale which will be the biggest sale event we have ever run. Follow @volitionteaco for more detail.  

Your presence in the tea community and Chicago, in particular, is immensely felt. What are you most proud of in the year you’ve been able to share the passion of your tea partners?

Thank you, that’s extremely kind! There are truly so many things I’m proud of that we accomplished in the past year. I would say what I’m most proud of is all the collaborations we have been able to do with local artists and artisans, particularly with the Chicago AAPI community. Nothing more empowering than sharing incredible teas from our tea producers while lifting up fellow AAPI small businesses. 

Where can Chicago locals find your tea? 

On our homepage you can find a Google map showing all of the places where you can find us. But to name a few, you can find our full retail product at Moonwalker Cafe. Brew to order is available at all five Big Shoulders Coffee locations, Backlot and Loaf Lounge.

Dan Cong wulongs are a treasure trove of textures and fragrances – each with a story to tell. The Black Jade produced by Lin Zhi Min is filled with the theme and variations of gardenia flowers, mineral structure, and earthy vegetation. Through its strength, you’ll find countless infusions and a lasting impression on the palate. I hope you can taste Annie’s teas such as Black Jade, or the new Ba Ma Raw Pu’erh through her website or by visiting a local partner the next time you’re in town!

Steep well!
– Marco

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s