At this point in the year, I am spending a good deal of my free time slurping down a lot of the green teas and lighter oolongs I have accumulated over the course of the year. I just can’t stand the thought of those fragile teas going stale before I get the opportunity to try them. This baozhong I picked up sometime toward the end of the summer was a product of the winter 2015 harvest. Though it is not a fancy competition grade baozhong, it does hold some appeal.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. Note that I am still using more or less mainland Chinese methods when it comes to preparing these Taiwanese oolongs. For this session, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 10 seconds following a quick rinse. This was followed by 11 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute 5 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 2 minutes 30 seconds, and 3 minutes 30 seconds.
Prior to the rinse, the dry leaves emitted a mild, pleasant vegetal aroma with a hint of floral character. After the rinse, the floral character became slightly stronger. I also began to note scents of cream and butter emerging. The first infusion presented more clearly defined aromas of sweetgrass, snap peas, soybean, violet, sweet pea, gardenia, vanilla, lily, lilac, and magnolia. In the mouth, there was a slight floral character on the entry, though it was nothing like the nose. I mostly perceived flavors of vanilla, cream, custard, butter, snap peas, sweetgrass, spinach, and soybean. Subsequent infusions saw the floral character become more assertive on the nose and more distinct in the mouth. At this point, I was able to pick out the individual floral components on the tongue that I was getting on the nose. Later infusions were smooth, creamy, and vegetal all around. The floral character began to fade, allowing aromas and flavors of sweetgrass, snap peas, soybean, spinach, cream, butter, custard, and vanilla to move to the fore once again. I also noted a slight mineral presence on the finish and a hint of ripe honeydew that I noted at no other point during the session.
I’ve had other farmer’s choice baozhongs this year and I have to say that I enjoyed them about as much as some of the more acclaimed competition grade teas. They were just so pleasant and easy to drink. While this particular baozhong displayed the thin mouthfeel that I do not always immediately appreciate and often associate with spring harvested baozhongs, it did display a nice, though simplistic layering of floral, savory, and vegetal aromas and flavors. I was also impressed by just how much character the tea retained over a fairly lengthy session. Though this was not my favorite non-competition baozhong that I have tried this year, I did find a lot to like about this one. I could see it making a respectable everyday baozhong.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Honeydew, Mineral, Peas, Soybean, Spinach, Vanilla, Violet