Pinglin Organic Bai Rui Xiang "White Rock" Baozhong Oolong Tea - Spring 2020Taiwan Sourcing
A famous Wu Yi Rock Tea varietal, Bai Rui Xiang, is pretty much a legend to the market now. It has over 100 years of history as another varietal "Bai Sui Xiang" (百歲香). What you will often find in the market that has name "Bai Rui Xiang," is mostly just a new varietal called "Rui Xiang" (瑞香) invented in 2003 in China. We had such opportunity with this varietal here in Taiwan is more than a miracle, but also the good well from the nature.
Meet Mr. Chen, who is a retired engineer that grows some of the best tea trees in Taiwan right now. Mr. Chen discovered a couple of ancient tea trees at the bottom of the valley years ago. These ancient tea trees were growing under the forest with strong vitality, so he decided to use the technique of "cuttage" to grow this tea trees at his own plantation. He later discovered this varietal was "Bai Rui Xiang" with some experts, and also realized the tea trees he did cuttage from are over a hundred years old at least.
We were super excited to get a hand on a varietal this special with such lineage. This is the offspring of the tea trees that survived in the wild for such a long time! Just as we began to work on it, we notice this tea reacts in a way that we did not expect.
Tea leaves require hand waving process to construct its transformation and structure. We thought this varietal would be easy to work with since it is a small-leaf varietal and the quantity is quite small. However, we immediately noticed this material was way too wild to interact with even though it is just an offspring. It has a very deep layer to work with and refused to show us any sign of transformation at all. To put it in once sentence, "It is way too stubborn as a tea varietal." As a said to Mr. Chen while working with it.
So the processing kept on at night as Mr. Chen went to bed. We basically hand waved this tea all the way to the morning and the fermentation took 7 hours to complete its transformation. The result was sublime, but we were exhausted to say the least. "So you are really a tea master, I see." Mr. Chen exclaimed with friendly-ness after he tried the draft tea.
So how does this tea "White Rock" taste like? We must say it is some of the most elegant tea we have ever tried. With a pine nut first note and multiple layer of elegant aftertaste to explore and feel, we think we did not fail the ordeal this varietal was trying to tell us. This "White Rock" will be the long lost Pinglin tea people have been looking for.
Harvest Season: Spring 2020 / 春 貳零貳零
Varietal: Bai Rui Xiang/ 白瑞香
Elevation: 580 M / 伍佰捌拾 公尺
Region: Pinglin / 坪林
Fermentation Level: 25% / 分之 廿伍
Roast Level: 1 / 壹 分
Water is boiling!
Rich and thick fruit aroma from the wet leaf. Deeper and more complex than I would've thought. The pine nut flavor is definitely clear and present. Quite interesting to taste alongside the green vegetal chard notes and some slight nasturtium floral quality. The body of the tea is thick and complex with minerality and savoryness. Very curious and clean tea all around. Will be fun to see it age and drink again.
The most difficult to process this year, period. An old dog and the team did expect this coming. This varietal really frustrated us a bit for its stubbornness. However, our effort paid off at the result. For people who got this tea, please do keep it for at least six months or even longer to see its full transformation. It has a lot to give than what an old dog is brewing right now!