Baozhong (包種茶), also referred to as Pouchong, is a light oxidized oolong tea, typically between 8%~18%, known for its vegetal and floral characteristics. The flowery notes are typically reminiscent of white lily flowers. Traditional Baozhong making techniques do not involve roasting but roasted varieties are available today.
Baozhong is considered a “green oolong tea” as it is mildly grassy and oceanic in aroma, like a green tea. Because of its floral character, many who like Jasmine green tea also enjoy Baozhong as they share similar qualities.
What does Baozhong tea look like?
Standard evaluation from the Taiwan Tea Research Extension Station states that the dry tea leaves should be an inch or so in length, shaped in skinny strips, and are naturally twisted and dried. The color should be bright emerald green. The infusions should be a mix of pale honey yellow and jade green, bright in color, and clear like water. Cloudy and dull-colored infusions are considered poor quality. The infusion should have a soft and supple mouthfeel, the aroma should be fresh and vibrant where the floral notes are elegant and not artificial.
An example of our baozhong tea.
Where is Baozhong tea made?
Baozhong Oolong is produced in the northern part of Taiwan and predominantly in the Pinglin District of New Taipei. Baozhong can be referred to as Wenshan Baozhong, since the geographic designation in northern Taiwan was referred to as the Wenshan district during the Japanese occupation.
Pouchong is another way to describe Baozhong tea. It is also known as Bao Zhong or Wenshan Baozhong.
Tea cultivar used to make Baozhong
Typically, the Boazhong oolong in Taiwan uses either the Qingxin variety or the TRES no. 12 (milk oolong) to be the base of their production. The harvest style for Baozhong is two~three leaves plus the baby tea bud. The harvested leaves should be soft, tender, and plump. To showcase the floral aroma, avoid harvesting too much baby buds as a relative ratio to more matured leaves, otherwise, the brew can be bitter and astringent.
Find out more about TRES here.
Origin of Baozhong
Taiwan started exporting oolong tea around 1865, though demand slowed in 1873. In 1881, Mr. Wu Fu Lao brought into Taiwan a new method of tea production from Anxi Fujian, in an effort to increase demand. The new and improved method of tea-making included cultivating Qingxin tea cultivar, producing the tea into a green oolong, then gently infusing the floral scents by rubbing freshly bloomed flowers with the dried oolong tea leaves in repetition.
In 1912, small localities in Taiwan figured out a way to produce floral oolong tea without actually scenting the tea with flowers through contact, which was extremely costly and labor-intensive.
This newly created loose leaf oolong was then wrapped with a square rice paper, typically stamped with the tea company seals. That’s where Baozhong got its name which phonetically translated from its Chinese name “the wrapped kind”. This style of production was the foundation of the modern Baozhong oolong tea from Pinglin of Taiwan.
The traditional way of wrapping tea.