The Tea Detective
Uncovering and Exploring the Facts About Tea
Guide to Buying and Brewing China's
Panyang Congou Black Tea
Panyang Congou (also known as Tan Yang Congou) comes from the same fam-
ily of China black teas that also include the ever popular Golden Monkey, Pan-
yang Golden Needle (also known as King of Golden Needle) and the somewhat
obscure Golden Crab.  All are grown in the little village of Tang Yang (or Tan-
yang) located on Taimu Mountain, just outside the city of Fu'an, in China's north-
eastern
Fujian province.    
Congou is a corruption of the Chinese words
Gong fu or Kung fu, which refers to some-
thing that is carefully or masterfully made,
which is definitely the case with Panyang
Congou.  Only the highest grades of
black
tea are called gong fu or kung fu teas and
require special skills in each step of manu-
facturing, from the precise plucking and sort-
ing, to the final shaping and finish firing.

Rather than the strong, fruity, and often
times more astringent teas found in other
black tea producing countries, Chinese black
teas are made with a softer, slower touch.  
The longer withering and oxidation steps
eliminate the astringency, giving their black
teas a sweeter, softer, and mellower flavor.
Harvested in spring and fall, each of the main teas that fall under the
Panyang Congou umbrella have a different processing style and are
sorted into four quality grades.  
Panyang Golden Needle (or King of
Golden Needle) has the finest leaf and the largest amount of sweet
golden buds.  Golden Monkey is next with slightly larger leaves, but
with less buds, followed by Golden Crab with slightly larger leaf.

Last is Panyang Congou with the largest leaf and least amount of buds, giving it a more full-
bodied concentrated flavor, closer in style to an
Assam or Darjeeling black tea, but with the
soft fruit flavor of baked, unsweetened apples
and a nutty, honey tinged aroma.

When shopping for Panyang Congou the
leaves are small, dark brown, and twisted,
with just a few golden colored buds blended
in.  The infusion is a dark caramel color with a
blush of copper.  Panyang Congou is orthodox
manufacture and receives a fine pluck of one
leaf and one bud, known as maojian (or mao
jian).

Panyang Congou tea has been grown in China
for over 300 years, established during the Qing
dynasty, and were popular during the height of
          
China's tea trade with Europe.  Today,
          though, just a mere 5% of the approxi-
          mately 400 total tons of tea produced yearly in Tang Yang village are Panyang teas,
          making it challenging to sometimes find, especially in seasons when the weather hasn't
          cooperated.

          When
purchasing tea online or from a company you're not
          familiar with or purchasing one you haven't yet sampled, I
          always recommend ordering the smallest amount possible to
          ensure it's a tea you like.

          If you have questions about a product the tea seller should
          be friendly and knowledgeable.  If they can't answer ques-
          tions about their products or are brusque or impatient, politely end the call and move on
          to a different tea seller.  There are plenty of good ones eager for your business.

                                                           Customer testimonials are another good way to help you
                                                           gauge a company or tea seller.  Most people leave honest
                                                           unedited comments about not only the products, but the
                                                           service, too.  Believe me, when someone is unhappy they
                                                           are more than willing to report it, but on the other hand, if
                                                           the tea and service is top notch, they're more than willing
                                                           to sing their praises, too.
        
          If you are new to tea and would like more tips on how to choose
          which teas to try first, stop by our
Buying Tea  page, and for more
          information on what to look for when buying loose teas in person
          online, or by mail order, visit our
Buying Loose Teas page.

          When brewing Panyang Congou tea the water temperature should
          be between 205F to 212F and should be steeped for 4 to 5 minutes.
          It can be drunk plain, w/cream and/or sugar, or with a squeeze of
          lemon and/or honey.  The recommended amount of Panyang Congou
          to use for 6 oz. of water is 2 1/2 to 3 teaspoons by volume or 2 1/2
          to 3 grams by weight. The following are recommended amounts to
          use for different sized servings by weight or volume:

          8 oz. mug - 4 to 5 grams by weight OR 4 to 5 teaspoons (1 1/3 - 1 2/3 tblsp.) by volume.
          24 oz.
travel mug - 12 to 13 grams by weight OR 12 to 13 tsps (4 1/3 - 4 2/3 tblsp.) by
          volume.
          32 oz. teapot (four 8 oz. servings) 16 to 17 grams by weight OR 5 1/3 to 5 2/3 tblsp. by
          volume.
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No reproductions of any kind allowed without permission.
For a great selection of quality teas, gifts, and
accessories, visit:
The Tea Detective's Gift of Tea Store  
                                  For more information on how much tea to use for different sized servings by weight or volume
                                  visit our
Measuring Loose Tea page and how to calculate the number of cups per pound and
                                  cost per cup, stop by our
Measure and Yield page.  For some great brewing tips including an
                                  old Chinese method of gauging the temperature of water visually, visit our
Secrets To
                                  Brewing page.

                                  And if you are totally new to tea and brewing, see our
How to Brew page for some quick tips
                                  and step-by-step instructions that will have you brewing a great cup of tea quickly and easily.

                                  These are all just suggestions and guidelines to help get you started brewing Panyang Con-
                                  gou.  Once you become more familiar with this style of tea you can, of course, change things
                                  up, using more or less tea, or longer/shorter steeping times for either a more robust cup or
maybe a less assertive cup of tea, depending on your personal tastes and preferences.  
Enjoy.
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