Wenshan Baozhong 2019
Wenshan Baozhong is unusual amongst Taiwanese tea in that it originated and was developed in Taiwan rather than being imported by Fujian immigrants. It carries a special reputation for this, as well as for being one of the lightest oxidized oolong teas produced around the world.
In the late 1700’s an immigrant from Anxi, Fujian named Wang Yicheng made an oolong tea from the Qingxin varietal. Wang did not roll the leaves as was the custom for Taiwanese oolong. Instead, he wrapped the striped tea leaves flat in white paper and stamped the packages with the name of his tea house. This type of tea came to be called “Baozhong.”
Today’s famous “Wenshan Baozhong” appeared in Taiwan at the beginning of the last century, when Wang Shuijin and Wei Jingshi from Anxi traveled there to reclaim a tea garden in Dakeng. Their intention was to create a light and refreshing tea that accentuated the fragrance of flowers. They eventually settled in Pinglin, Taiwan, a place known to the locals as “Wenshan.”
Pinglin, about an hour's drive from Taipei City, is one of the earliest tea areas in Taiwan. The stream of the Feicui Reservoir, the source of drinking water in Taipei City, runs through the Beishi River in Pinglin. On account of this, Pinglin's environmental conservation has long received special attention, and the use of herbicides, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides is strictly regulated.
The tea farms in Pinglin are located at 2000 - 2500 ft elevation, on the slopes of a mountain that receives a great deal of rainfall and fog year round. Teas grown here are high in active compounds and minerals, which means that they feel very soft and smooth in the mouth. Because of this, we often see craftsmen making lightly oxidized and lightly bruised teas from trees grown in Pinglin so as to not overpower this sensation. Wenshan Baozhong teas crafted this way maintain an emerald green colour, even in their honey coloured liquor. They taste light and refreshing, and linger evenly on the tongue.
This Wenshan Baozhong is from the Feng Family, a fourth-generation tea family in Pinglin. In 1921, Feng Huaijin's great-grandfather, Feng Kui, opened Xiangtai Tea Shop in the old street of Pinglin Township, where it still stands today.
The most striking feature of Wenshan Baozhong is its fresh fragrance, and its mild oxidation level, at only 12-20%. Although trends and a competitive market in the 1980s lead Taiwanese oolongs to become increasingly "green," the Feng family insisted on maintaining traditional methods of making Wenshan Baozhong. Their collective of tea farmers who have been working together with them for several generations now continue to oxidize their tea according to traditional methods.
This Wenshan Baozhong is collected from the tea garden in the forest at around 2000 ft above sea level in Pinglin. It is hand-picked, with one bud and two leaves, and its oxidation is light, but very thorough. The liquor it yields is translucent, tinted the characteristic honey-green color. The floral fragrance it carries in the mouth is refreshing and smooth, and its sweetness is delicate and long-lasting.
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