For anyone interested in reading about Taiwanese Baozhong, may I point you to you TeaDB’s overview: http://teadb.org/baozhong. After many hours of jumping from one to another scant, often questionable or contradictory writeup about this tea, James’ post about Baozhong was quite the find, and I’ve edited this tasting note accordingly.
It was on Day 1 of the hunt that I learned that Baozhong, Pouchong, Baochong, Paozhong, and each of their two-word versions are all translations of the same Chinese character meaning “the wrapped kind,” since originally, and still occasionally today, the tea leaves were wrapped in paper. James referred to the paper as the packaging; Wikipedia said the paper was part of the drying process. Perhaps both.
Today, the tea marketed to a Western audience as Baozhong is almost always grown at 400-800m elevation in northern Taiwan. In the 1870s the tea came to Taiwan from directly across the China Sea in Fujian, China, where it continues to be grown. I might assume that this Sesame Baozhong was grown in Taiwan, simply because every tea called Baozhong that I’ve run into has been from Taiwan. But this tea seems to chart its own path. For all I know, it could be from Fujian or elsewhere.
As with the green oolong trend, seen with Dong Ding and Tieguanyin (other than Muzha TGY), Baozhong is most commonly offered as a green oolong—very green, James wrote, 5–20% oxidation—and is described along the lines of floral, buttery, sweet, vegetal.
Again, though, this Sesame Baozhong, does not follow the trend. After all, Andrew included it the 2016 Dark Matter group buy—no place for a green oolong! Instead, it seems the leaves were lightly roasted, yielding a soft but still full-flavored medium-light toastiness. (If I had more leaf, while sipping my next cup I’d be thinking about oxidation, and trying to tell the difference between oxidation and roasting.)
I didn’t see any sesame seeds in with the leaves, so I guess the “sesame” name means the leaves have been scented or otherwise flavored. James wrote that “the original Taiwanese Baozhong was scented for added fragrance, similar to Jasmine tea”; today the tea is offered both unscented (naturally floral, in its green oolong form) and is also commonly seen scented, usually with rose or jasmine. No flowers in this cup, though.
The combination of light roast and sesame blended into a savory-sweet nutty flavor that I found to be a quite pleasant session. I followed the parameters on the package: 205°F 2g 4oz 45/60/75 sec, and continued for another two steeps after the first three.