Above is our choice pick of spring tea from our source of Wenshan Baozhong Tea. It was a surprisingly smooth process of choosing which day's harvest we wanted. At first, when we walked in and saw his tea table maxed out with 10 bowls of pre-brewed tea, and were invited to taste them and choose which one we want, it was rather intimidating!
But this is the beauty of a tea cupping, albeit "factory style", where there is no scale to perfectly weigh each sample, and no tea brewing cups, and no timed brewing. These folks have done this a million times. They know what time it is! And finally, we can honestly say that we are now comfortable with this method of tea tasting. Like everyone else here in the industry, we actually prefer the "bowl method". But it's really only in recent years that we suddenly found ourselves preferring this method. When we first realized this, we felt "grown up"!
This tea had been brewed at least 20 minutes before we arrived. It wasn't cold, but it was barely still warm. This state is actually the most revealing overall. Letting the leaves brew fully in the bowl, not too concentrated, but enough, and then left to cool. This offers the most information, in our humble opinion. We tasted all of them back and forth, over and over, eliminating several selections along the way. We then requested that the remaining tea be poured off, and brew them a second time. Brewing in bowls allows the tea to cool relatively quickly. The leaves don't "stew". So a second brew can reveal what kind of substance and endurance a given batch of tea has to offer. After tasting the second brew, we had narrowed it down to two batches. Then our host said "Let's go eat lunch, and come back to brew these two." We gratefully, accepted!
We seem to have made a custom of arriving here shortly before lunchtime, tasting tea, eating lunch, and then heading home after lunch. It makes sense, given the 2.5 -3 hour drive one way, but we also (not so) secretly enjoy having a meal cooked by Mom in their home on each visit!
We came back to the tea table, brewed the two batches we chose, and five minutes later made a definitive decision. Part of the smooth process of choosing which batch we liked most was how comfortable we feel communicating with this master. He really is the definition of down to earth. While there is a fundamental air ofconfidence and self-respect about him, there is truly no need to impress. It's just so easy to communicate. That's the point. This is the crux of our connection to the industry at large. People are real. They are farmers, as well as master craftsmen. What a privilege it is to feel at home in this community...
We just called our friend today to ask about competition results. One of his entries won "Top Place Award" meaning that it ranked within the top 2% of all entries. All 5 of his entries achieved awards. In a word, badass!
Watch the video and come along for the ride on our spring 2021 Wenshan Baozhong sourcing trip! Even better, get some of this tea here now!
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