Friday, April 30, 2010

Spring 2010 Wenshan Baozhong

Baozhong tea started near Taipei, in Nangang, but progressively moved south east of Taipei, towards Pinglin, in search of a natural environment, away from the growing capital. Here, in the Wenshan area, the farmers have found a very well preserved region with beautiful landscapes.

In the 19th century, Baozhong (Pouchong) and flower scented Baozhong were mostly exported to South East Asia by Taiwanese dealers. Western dealers like TAIT (see Kirsten Kristensen's picture of an old TAIT & Cie tea label) would use the name 'Formosa Oolong', even though they were exporting the same tea!

The name 'Oolong' stands for all semi-oxidized teas. But in Taiwan, nowadays, the name 'Oolong' is mostly used to designate the rolled Oolongs while Baozhong is used for the twisted, unroasted, low oxidized leaves. Baozhong can be made with all kinds of cultivars, but the most traditional remains qingxin (luanze) Oolong.

The traditional technique, the weather and the environment all contribute to make Wenshan Baozhong distinctive from rolled Oolongs made elsewhere in Taiwan.
Below, a quick competition tasting (3 gr / 6 minutes) of the 4 spring 2010 Wenshan Baozhongs I selected:

'Flower' Baozhong.
Hand harvested on April 17.
Luanze Oolong cultivar.
Light oxidation.

Flowery fragrance mixed with some sea scents reminiscent of Japenese sencha. Very soft and sweet taste, and lingering aftertaste.

I could also mention freshness, but I would have to do so for all 4 Baozhongs!


'Subtropical Forest' Baozhong.
Hand harvested on April 7.
Luanze Oolong cultivar.
Low to medium oxidation, without stems and very lightly roasted.

This is the more traditional version of Wenshan Baozhong. It lets you best smell and taste the aromas of the mountainous forest where these leaves come from. This tea is fine and mellow with a slight astringency that transforms into sweetness as it lingers on and on. The fragrances are a little bit more fruity and 'foresty'.

Young tree Baozhong.
Hand harvested on April 17.
Luanze Oolong cultivar.
Low oxidation. Stems are kept on purpose.

Intoxicating dry fragrance (hints of lavender). Modern way of processing Baozhong. Very light and 'green' spring fragrances. The taste is clean, soft with a touch of 'lemon'.



'Organic' Baozhong
Hand harvested on April 17.
Luanze Oolong cultivar.
Light to medium oxidation.

These leaves have been harvested young (lots of buds) and have a light green color once brewed. The fragrance is light fruity (mango). The taste is pure and delicate.

Below, from right to left: 'Flower', 'Subtropical Forest', 'Young Tree', 'Organic' Baozhongs:
Below, from right to left and top to bottom: 'Flower', 'Subtropical Forest', 'Young Tree', 'Organic' Baozhongs:
I took this last picture outdoors to show the very good transparency and clarity of the Baozhongs I selected. The color (green or yellow) also shows the different levels of oxidation of these teas.

9 comments:

David said...

Ahhhh ! Enfin les Wenshan Baozhong de printemps ! Comme je suis heureux. À partir de quand va-t-on pouvoir t'en commander ?

Bonne journée.

Stephane said...

Salut David,
Ils sont disponibles depuis hier!
A bientôt,

Stéphane

Karen said...

And which do you most like? :)

Stephane said...

Karen,
For bursting fragrance, the 'flower' is best. For energy, the 'young tree'. For finesse and purity, the 'organic'. However, my personal preference goes to the 'subtropical forest', because I feel its aromas match the feeling of hiking in the mountains around Taipei so well.

Beschuit said...

“the name 'Oolong' is mostly used to designate the rolled Oolongs while Baozhong is used for the twisted, unroasted, low oxidized leaves. Baozhong can be made with all kinds of cultivars, but the most traditional remains qingxin (luanze) Oolong.“

Interesting! I never knew about this distinction before.

iulius said...

Compared with the same Baozhong from last year, are they similar or do they differ a bit?

Julien Élie

Stephane said...

Iulius,
I haven't compared them to last year's. Mostly because I'm out of last year's Baozhongs (except the young tree). But, of course, each year is different. I even changed a name to reflect that change! Also, now these are only a couple of weeks old and obviously taste different than Baozhongs that are a year old!

Victoria said...

Is this year's a little more roasted than usual on the 'Subtropical Forest'? I don't recall much roasting at all on the prior two years.

Stephane said...

Victoria,
Even the 'greenest' Oolongs are dried in a roaster so that they can be preserved longer. The temperature is lower and time is shorter than for real roasting. Still, this step will give some dry fire feel to the tea. This will dissipate after a few days/weeks.

With the subtropical forest Baozhong, the drying had been done the day I picked the tea and hadn't completely dissipated by the time I tasted the tea. That's why I still noticed it, but it's not unusual and it will be gone soon.