Tea cultivar: Da Pa Oolong
Process: Hand harvested, low oxidized, light drying, Baozhong shape.
Origin: Wenshan, North Taiwan
Harvest date: November 30, 2008
Baozhong can be made with any kind of tea tree suitable for Oolong. Traditionally, farmers use Luanze (qingxin) Oolong for their top Baozhong. Or they use Si Ji Chun, Jin Xuan, Tsui Yu leaves for more common Baozhong (the yields are higher). Da Pa Oolong isn't often used to make Baozhong. Nowadays, it is mostly used to make Oriental Beauty Oolong. The question that arises is why is a particular cultivar better suited than an other to make a certain type of Oolong? When we drink Oriental Beauty, the taste of Da Pa Oolong is difficult to compare to other types of Oolongs, because the oxidation is much higher. However, with this 'Da Pa' Baozhong we can compare it to other leaves at a very similar oxidation level.
From the dry leaves, we can see many white tips. Good sign: tips are more concentrated and fragrant. The dry fragrance is fresh and intoxicating. I smell mostly lavender and even caramel when I inhale strongly.
There's a fragrance in the brew that I often find in Wenshan Baozhong: marshmallows! There are also more typical fresh vegetation scents. The taste is pure, light and silky. There are hints of acidity like in a sweet candy. A fresh feeling in the mouth and a dry feeling on the tongue show how young and fresh this winter Baozhong. (Winter is less fragrant than spring, but brings more 'dryness' and aftertaste).
What I find very pleasant in this Baozhong is the Da Pa cultivar personality: a very good balance between fragrance and taste. Luanze Oolong may have a longer aftertaste, but its fragrance is lighter. And for the very fragrant Si Ji Chun, Jin Xuan or Tsui Yu, they too often lack aftertaste. Here, the delicate fresh smells are matched by a smooth and silky mouth feel! No wonder this tea tree also makes such good Oriental Beauty!
For a change, I tested this tea using the traditional way Baozhong is tested here: using an uncovered bowl. Tea merchants simply use ceramic rice bowls. But I recommend to use the bowl that is included in the white porcelain competition tasting set, so that you use a standard bowl. I used 3 grams and boiling water. (Remember to preheat the bowl first.)
This method lets you see the leaves unfurl and with the tea spoon (a Chinese soup spoon), you can smell the fragrance several times. You also use the spoon to pour some tea in your cup. And you can lift the leaves with the spoon to smell them, too. The brew cools down fast without the cover, but it brews longer than 6 minutes (for the competition standard). So, this is actually a tougher test on the leaves.
Remark: This test method or the competition test method (3 grams for 6 minutes) are NOT the optimal parameters. They are just standard brewing methods used by professionals to evaluate a tea in a more objective manner. The optimal parameters exist, but so many factors influence them that it's best to use your senses and experience to find them.