Cultivar: 3 years old Rou Guei tea trees
Origin: Wenshan, northern Taiwan
Harvested by hand on October 20, 2012.
Process: Unroasted Baozhong
Competition brewing to test it: 3 grams for 6 minutes.
The dry leaves appear quite big (bigger than qingxin oolong). The fresh green color is in line with today's lightly oxidized Baozhongs. The tea contains stems, because I purchased it so early in the season that the farmer hadn't had the time to take them away. (This keeps the price more reasonable and doesn't impact the tea much ; stems have a sweet taste, but little fragrances).
What makes this Baozhong special is the cultivar: Rou Guei (肉桂, Ròuguì, cinnamon). This cultivar comes from the Wu Yi mountains (China) and is currently among the most popular there. As its name indicates, what distinguishes these leaves is not the taste, but its scents. The dry smells are very fresh, green, pure and sweet. It's a very nice and appealing scent.
The tea soup is clear and smells more like the mountain forest and rivers of Wenshan. The taste is mellow and fresh. But it also has a nice body. As I'm drinking this tea, the scents remind me of passion fruit! And the after taste now also reminds me of the feeling of cinnamon chewing gum (but not as strong, of course). It has the strength of a newly planted tea.
The edges of the big leaves show oxidation marks, as is the case with traditional Baozhong. The shape of these leaves is very different from qingxin Oolong.I
The farmer didn't want to sell all his unroasted harvest. He also wanted to keep enough to experiment roasting these leaves and taste the result. To support this spirit of R&D, I gave him some guidance by giving him a few leaves of original, roasted Wu Yi Rou Guei. It's great to see that Taiwan tea farmers are open to innovation and experimentation. Maybe in 10 years, Rou Guei will become as common in Wenshan as it is in Wu Yi!? There are always new teas, new processes that appear or travel from one tea region to another. It's one of the things that make tea so interesting. We all (farmers, tasters, drinkers...) keep on learning!
I live in Taiwan since 1996 and have been studying tea with Teaparker. He's a worldwide tea expert and author of over 30 tea books. The study of tea isn't just theoretical, but it's also rooted in daily practice. It's a path of continuous improvement. As my brewing technique improves I get access to better teas and better accessories. These things go hand in hand. My blog documents my learning since 2004. And I have set up an online tea boutique with my selection of top quality teas, accessories and tea culture.