88
drank Bai Ji Guan by TeaSpring
24 tasting notes

Bai Ji Guan has a status almost as mythical as the Yixing Pot itself. If you believe half of what you read on tea blogs, etc., this tea should transport you to heretofore unattainable planes of pleasure and enlightenment.
Inspired by Thomas Smith’s recent post on Steepster here: http://steepster.com/ThomasSmith/posts/63238#comments, I was determined to try this tea — my first time with Bai Ji Guan.
It was difficult to find. I was told by Jing Teas that the 2010 crop was inferior because of climatic conditions. Tillerman was out; Hou De didn’t have any. The only 2010 Bai Ji Guan I could find was from Teaspring.
Well, if this is inferior, I’m not sure I could handle “the truth” about Bai Ji Guan. I’ll try to break it down:
First, I am partial to old-style Wuyi oolongs, traditional heavy roasts. At the same time, I understand the preference for “new” light roasts with more vegetal and floral draperies. Bai Ji Guan seems, impossibly, to hold on to both tendencies. A sniff of the bag convinced me it was Yancha — could have been Da Hong Pao or Rou Gui; no big deal. Color of dry leaves was light golden but not as blond as I’ve seen advertised. But when I slid the leaves into a very pre-warmed pot, the aroma gushed toasted pecans. I awoke with my head in my grandmother’s oven.
After playing around with this tea in a gaiwan (which is where I suggest you start), I filled the little pot almost full — not tightly packed, just loose 80 percent to the top. Quick rinse and just as quick a first infusion. Really. Just a deep breath, then pour.
This is no mere Yancha! In the gaiwan, the spice and pepper were way up front. Sharp almost. Now, in the pot, the green pepper was perfectly balanced with roasted nuts, while a smokey, yes pipe tobacco sense, lay just behind.
I really felt like the difference between Bai Ji Guan and other Yanchas was spatial — similar aromas and tastes but different hierarchy and layers of sensation. Also, the deep creamy thickness that came out of a very light amber liquor. I’ve really never had quite the combination.
In subsequent infusions the tobacco-nut flavor remained dominant. But I’ve never had a tea that changed so much across steeps. Nuts yield to flowers, flowers for a moment seem vegetal. I wish I had Thomas Smith’s fine-tuned vocabulary! Yes, husks and caramels and rain-soaked hay! Egg. I never knew what egg meant until now.
Spent leaves are golden and green, very light. Worshipful.
So. This didn’t make me giddy the way good Dan Congs do. But it may be even more profound; I’m not yet sure.
I can’t believe this is an “inferior” year. May I live to taste next year’s crop. May I live to suck this last little drop off the cup.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 15 sec
teaddict

Sounds terrific. And now wondering why I have not been aware of this tea before. Will put it on the wish list for the future.

Thomas Smith

Wow, thank you.

Glad you like it – TeaSpring was the second ever place I ordered Bai Ji Guan from. This one is great testimony to the roll of one’s eyes in tasting; even when it has a heavy roast and oxidation this cultivar winds up no darker than an aged Bao Zhong!

Gerard

Excellent Wu Yi oolong and the long-lasting “hui gan” is quite remarkable. It remained for several hours. Caramel, sweet spice, cinnamon, fig, cereal and a touch of wild flowers. Brewed in a 80mL zhu ni pot.

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Comments

teaddict

Sounds terrific. And now wondering why I have not been aware of this tea before. Will put it on the wish list for the future.

Thomas Smith

Wow, thank you.

Glad you like it – TeaSpring was the second ever place I ordered Bai Ji Guan from. This one is great testimony to the roll of one’s eyes in tasting; even when it has a heavy roast and oxidation this cultivar winds up no darker than an aged Bao Zhong!

Gerard

Excellent Wu Yi oolong and the long-lasting “hui gan” is quite remarkable. It remained for several hours. Caramel, sweet spice, cinnamon, fig, cereal and a touch of wild flowers. Brewed in a 80mL zhu ni pot.

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A dedicated tea drinker, I focus on teas from China and Taiwan. I favor oolongs and puerhs but also enjoy green teas.

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Boston

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