This month's edition of the Eco-Cha Tea Club is a Competition Grade Wenshan Baozhong Tea made from spring 2022 harvest. This batch won an award in the local competition, although not as prestigious as last spring's entry — which won Top Category Prize (within the top 2 % of all entries). Our friend from whom we source this tea said that the tea judge was a newbie, and it's hard to know how they will rate the teas. But it's all a gamble in the end, as we learned a couple years ago when we tasted a batch that got rejected side by side with the champion prize winning tea. They were strikingly similar!
Wenshan Baozhong is one of Taiwan's earliest claims to fame. It was being exported by the historical tea pioneer John Dodd in the late 1800's, prior to the Japanese occupation that began in 1985. So this was basically the first Taiwan Tea to become world famous! Fortunately for us, this tea making tradition has survived until today, although it is a very small niche industry that is exclusive to the Pinglin region in the greater Taipei area.
The photos above show the limpid golden green color that Baozhong brews. It is considered to be the least oxidized Oolong (partially oxidized tea) of all Taiwan Oolongs. We however, feel that it is more about a variation in processing that maintains a very fresh, green, aromatic character to this tea, while the oxidation may be more than some of the greenest High Mountain Teas.
We can see the very uniform coloration of the leaves, indicating that the were not "bruised" as much by tumbling and shuffling as High Mountain Tea. It is a combination of two factors that mainly result in the unique flavor profile on Wenshan Baozhong. First, is extensive indoor withering with minimal tumbling. Second is that the leaves are only curled rather than tightly rolled. Not rolling the leaves maintains their structural integrity, and locks in a freshness by not breaking cell walls and fibrous structure in the leaf.
We are excited to share this competition grade of a traditional Taiwan Tea in order to allow our Tea Club members to experience the unique character of Wenshan Baozhong Tea.