What is Taiwanese oolong tea?: Oolong tea is the main type of tea that is produced and consumed in Taiwan. There are many kinds of oolong teas and they are classified according to their regional origin, seasonality and processing method. Interestingly, the flavors of oolong teas change dramatically from season to season.
Baozhong is one of the Oolong varieties. It is also occasionally known as Pouchong, but the more modern name Bao-Zhong literally translates as ‘the wrapped kind’. This is because the tea leaves were packed in squares of paper rather than into a tin or a box, though actually, due to advancements in tea processing, it often isn’t wrapped anymore.
Originally produced in Fujan, in mainland China, it was brough to Taiwan about 150 years ago by a tea merchant Fu-Yuan Wu. Today, the best Baozhong tea is produced in Wenshan, Taipei, and is well known in Taiwan as their famous “spring tea” as it is generally picked in April. Baozhong is mostly only lightly or entirely unroasted, though it does oxidise quite quickly if not stored properly.
Appearance: The leaves are beautiful, long and twisted, with a very pretty vivid turtle green color and look much bigger than green tea leaves.
Taste: Baozhong oolong has a remarkable flavor. The taste is so light and fresh, with lovely floral notes so that you might even think it was a green tea. Some have described the flavor as having notes of flowers and melon, and no bitterness at all. Occasionally it will be scented with the extra addition of flowers. The flavor of baozhong tea is similar to some high mountain oolong teas. However, baozhong is grown at much lower altitudes. Although highly aromatic, Baozhong is a gentle tea and a wonderful type for daily drinking.
Types: There are main three types of Baozhong.
- standard - high quality, hand cut, hand rolled oolong
- superior - hand cut, hand rolled oolong, made from selected leaves from the top branches the tea bushes
- Aged Baozhong is highly prized and can get quite pricey. This is usually reroasted periodically, so the taste is quite different from a newer production.
Brewing: The recommendation for this tea is to brew it as all light oxidized tea. In general it is best to use a glass or porcelain pot. The temperature of water used for making Bao Zhong Oolong is lower than most. Use water about 80-85°C (175-185°F).
Use approximately 3 grams of tea leaves for 250 ml of water. It may require a longer brewing time than most of other Taiwan oolongs. 3-5 minutes is about right and then increase steeping time for subsequent brews from the same leaves.
Health Benefits: Baozhong tea contains amino acids, chlorophyll, catechins, and other compounds which may help strengthen the immune system, strengthen bones and teeth, and lower the risk of diseases that are associated with inflammation. Bao Zhong tea also promotes weight loss due contained in tea caffeine, vitamins and minerals. It is also well known for relieving tension, promoting relaxation and improving mood. An all round winner for good health!