Thursday, 30 September 2010

every last drop

One of the best known Wu Longs from Taiwan. Mildly fermented, the leaf produces a liquor with a flowery, almost peppery aroma. -Le Palais des Thes' description of Bao Zhong Oolong.

I've been waiting to write about this because I wasn't sure if my enthusiasm for this tea would waver. Somehow the two teas I found in Athens have managed to be of superior quality. Maybe I'm getting better at selecting tea. Maybe I simply got lucky. I wrote about the Grand Yunnan black soon after I got it partly because I drink so much black tea, but also because I was overwhelmed by how delicious it was.

Thought that possibly my trip was clouding my judgement-that any tea drunk while staring out at the Aegean while on an isolated, practically unknown island would be perfect. So the Yunnan I delighted in and wrote of it glowingly and that was that.

The truth is that although I write more frequently about black tea and enjoy the bitter tannins that turn off so many other tea drinkers...the truth is that I drink quite a bit of green tea and Oolong. More than I talk about here. Several days ago, I mentioned one of the Oolongs I like most (Dung-ti Oolong), and said that I had another lightly oxidised tea to report on.

In the comments section, both Sir Will and Alex sang the praises of these teas and Taiwan Oolongs in particular. I've read so many blogs and accounts of them, I knew I'd finally locate some of the finer ones. Bao Zhong Oolong is definitely in this category. Definitely.

The first infusion made me wish I did what so many do and discard it. I've said before that I have a hard time throwing any tea away. I steeped it only a few minutes and there just wasn't much to the taste. It smelled very similar to the Dung-ti, but I was really disappointed at the outset.

Here's the thing's why you infuse Oolong multiple times: the second time around was divine. Like most if not all Oolongs, there was absolutely no bitterness. None. 'No peaks, no bites,' is how Pratt says we tea drinkers describe these teas and here it's definitely the case.

By the third infusion I could nearly taste flowers in the cup. The above-mentioned description says it almost tastes 'peppery', which I couldn't quite locate. But it had the nicest vegetal notes that made me slow down and savour every sip. I cannot recommend Bao Zhong Oolong more highly.

Whether you're an Oolong aficionado or still trying this sort of tea on for size, this one is unquestionably worth a taste.


  1. Flowers in the cup? What a nice picture.

    And for throwing tea away, you are not the only one.

  2. I often have this experience with greener oolongs, especially when I haven't figured out how to brew them optimally...the first infusion can be exceedingly bland, and at times even soapy. Some can be tricky to figure out how to brew so as to bring out the goog qualities.

    I haven't tried this particular Bao Zhong, but it sounds worth trying.