Baigushan Organic "Frozen Sapphire" Winter Rhythm Oolong Tea - Jan 2022Taiwan Sourcing
A rare and majestic Mikado Pheasant alighted on a tree branch above the road. After passing a cool eye over our vehicle, he spread out his dashing, deep indigo wings and took flight up Baigushan, directing us towards the plantation that lay high up on the mountain. From there we drove on, making our way up the treacherous winding road to the plantation.
The main peak of Baigushan, otherwise known as Mount Baigu, towers over the village of Hongxiang at an elevation of 3,341 meters. A little over halfway up the mountain are a small collection of farms growing tea, and the one that agreed to work with us this year is one of the highest. We arrived in the early afternoon to witness the end of the picking at the farm. The tea bushes were planted in a small clearing surrounded by tall and stocky conifers. Facing downslope, one was offered views reaching far south across Taiwan’s Central Mountain range on this crisp winter afternoon. Today’s harvest would be a “winter rhythm,” leaves made hardy by alpine frosts.
The freshly picked tea was driven down to the farm’s production facility, nestled in the valley under the shadow of Baigushan. Though the tea was cooperative and processed smoothly, the frigid mountain air made for a long night. After a precious few hours of sleep in the back of the car, we awoke to find the tea ready for its first try. The tea liquor was a light yellow, and had a sort of seaweed-like flavor mixed with the grassy sharpness of a freshly made tea. The processing had been done correctly and the foundational layer of the tea was set, but It was time now to send it to our charcoal roaster, where or winter rhythm tea’s flavor potential could be even further developed.
After one month without seeing the Baigushan tea, we traveled down to visit the roaster and see how the tea was progressing, not sure what to expect. The light yellow we left behind had now matured into a strong and bright radioactive green, the sharp immaturity of the unroasted tea gave way to a creamy umami flavor (think of a rich seaweed broth or pan-roasted mushrooms) with an absolutely intoxicating aroma. Although this tea is most certainly from Taiwan, the bright colors and flavors could vie with a fine Japanese sencha. If you are able to try this tea, be prepared to change your idea of high mountain Taiwanese teas. We may suggest enjoying this tea alongside other "winter rhythm" teas such "Frosty Serpent" and "Frosty Mist" to better understand the difference between seasonal harvests, as well as the unique nature of this high mountain tea. After finally trying this delectable and rare treasure of a tea, we decided to name it "Frozen Sapphire," for the majestic mikado pheasant who led us up the mountain.
Harvest: Jan 2022 / 壹月 貳零貳貳
Varietal: Qing Xin Oolong / 青心烏龍
Elevation: 1950 M / 壹仟玖佰伍拾 公尺
Region: Baigushan / 白姑山
Fermentation Level: 25% / 分之 貳拾伍
Roast Level: 1 / 壹 分
Waiting to brew......
Definitely a unique tea all around. 2000 meters up into a place we as tea lovers aren’t familiar with - this tea is born in the cold snaps. It brews a kind of beautifully chartreuse soup. Flavors are so curious, I’d say it has a “spine of nasturtium” as that edible florality persists through the steeps. There’s also some osmanthus in the finish and layers of Japanese sencha character for sure. It is a buoyant and uplifting effect perfect for an afternoon tea time. Cheers!
After eight months of proper aging under the "blessing" of new processing technique, this tea is finally fully ready to start its flavorful journey at the moment of writing in the October of 2022. Our patience paid off with this unique tea transforming into a very enjoyful high mountain oolong tea. It no longer has that Japanese green tea character but gradually revealing its oolong tea nature under that familiar fruit note a Taiwanese high mountain oolong has. This is probably the best winter rhythm style tea an old dog had ever tried so far in the market not because we were the team that made it, but simply because how this tea surprised.