Pinglin Organic Qi Lan "Jadeite Lion" Baozhong Oolong Tea - Spring 2018Taiwan Sourcing
Baozhong, one of the oldest tea types in Taiwan, is probably the most unique tea type in the world. The reason for it being named "Baozhong" (包種) is interesting. Some say it is called "Baozhong" (包種) because of a typo from "Se Zhong" (色種), which means a special varietal that is different from the traditional varietal from Wu Yi (武夷), and people miswrote the two words.
Another more convincing, and well known in Japanese document, recorded that the name Baozhong was derived from the way in which tea merchants at that time packed their tea products with folding paper, because "Baozhong" in Han character literally "the type of tea that was packed." Furthermore, this is again, one of the most crucial points for Baozhong being classified as "Baozhong" in 19th century, is that it was a scented oolong tea with flowers such as osmanthus. Eventually, the old Baozhong evoluted to the modern Baozhong we are more familiar with today after the innovative process invented by tea masters in the 1910s, which made the new type of Baozhong no longer required to be scented with flower to carry a floral aroma.
However, despite them being very similar, the 21st century Baozhong and 20th century Baozhong, are two totally different tea types now after the rising of high mountain oolong, and therefore making the 21st century Baozhong very "green tea like." Like our Cui Yu, this new Baozhong we are offering from 2017 winter, is the Baozhong that follows the tradition of proper processing. As a result, this Baozhong will be probably another best Baozhong Oolong you have ever tried before, and will age very well under the right condition without vacuum sealing storage.
As introduced from last season, Baozhong is now a very special tea to Taiwan Sourcing since the traditional processing method that is finally matured. It is also thanks to this processing that made this already special varietal name "Qi Lan" which literally translated to "Fantastic Orchid" (奇蘭), a unique existence to Taiwan. People who are very familiar with Chinese tea might heard of this name before from the "Dan Cong Oolong" or "Rock Tea," and these are both a special type of tea from Southeast coast of China. Being a neighbor of it, Taiwan was fortunately enough to have this rare varietal transferred to Pinglin decades ago.
Thanks to the traditional processing and drying through charcoal roasting technique (which is drying not roasting by the way), this tea probably captured how Baozhong was at the beginning of 20th century. The soup is thick yet delivers a character only Baozhong has, and no one should miss such unique opportunity to try one of the most interesting Baozhongs in their life. If you are trying Baozhong for the first time, this "Jadeite Lion" will certainly spoil you.
Harvest Season: Spring 2018 / 春 貳零壹捌
Varietal: Qi Lan / 奇蘭
Elevation: 400 M / 肆佰 公尺
Region: Pinglin / 坪林
Fermentation Level: 25% / 分之 廿
Roast Level: 1 / 壹 分
Water is boiling!
The charcoal finishing is clear on the nose in my heated gaiwan. It has the baozhong freshness but also has an edibility and comforting aura around it that is quite curious. I brewed 3 grams for a minute in a 150ml gaiwan. There is a rather incredible fruitiness in the aroma of the wet leaf. Red and black berry-like. Completely enticing. The taste is smooth and has some berry sweetness but also reminds me very much of a classic green balled oolong. The qilan cultivar is interesting to me as I definitely pick up orchid notes in taste and aroma. It's beautiful. The leaf isn't pretty to me, but it doesn't matter. There is a medium to full body that barely claws at the top of the tongue and palate. I'm really impressed. Definitely try this for a broadening of baozhong horizons.
This tea confused an old dog when it arrived as draft tea, and that made perfect sense to anyone - this tea didn't feel like a Taiwanese tea at the beginning when you encounter the aroma. It felt so much like Dan Cong Oolong from China for the intensity of its aroma. The confusion will soon be cleared by the softness of the tea soup, which is a strong character of how Taiwanese tea should be to the memory of a veteran tea drinker. An old dog was fortunate to try the other version of this tea which was processed into the modern oxidated way and was not so impressed by it. Only the traditional process was able to deliver how unique this varietal is. To make this tea even for special, we also sent this tea to the charcoal roasting room for further refining, and that was never done before to a Baozhong we carried. If you have tried our Baozhong from last winter, you should not miss this one since this Baozhong will forever change your concept about Baozhong.