Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cupping 2005 & 2006 Wenshan Baozhong

Six and a half years ago I set aside ~4 ounces of fresh spring 2005 Wenshan Baozhong (文山包種) tea in a tall mason jar with a screw on lid. One year later I did the same with my 2006 Wenshan Baozhong, but this time I used a shorter jar with a rubber gasket lid.

Since that time the leaves have been stored in the dark corner of a bookshelf, behind a curtain, along with my humble puer collection. I have only opened them once, a few years back, to take a little sniff.

Today will be the first time I've cupped them since they were new.

2006 (left) and 2005 (right)

I chose two identical glass mugs for this cupping. In each mug I used 2.5 grams of leaf and 80 ml of boiling water. I sipped directly from the mugs and added more water several times.

I realize that today's cupping will provide me with very little useful information. This is because I do not have any notes or memories (except the notion that they were once really good) about how these two teas originally tasted. So today I will just describe my impressions so that I'll have a useful "baseline" a few years later when I decide to repeat this cupping.

The dry leaves look similar but I noticed a few more woody stems in the 2005. The 2006, on the other hand, had a few more broken leaves. For both teas, the aroma off the dry leaves is muted and underwhelming. The 2005 reminds me a little bit of stale graham crackers and the 2006 reminds me of stale graham crackers in the grass.

The flavor of 2005 was slightly darker and earthier and its aroma was a bit mustier. It was still a little bit floral and had a nice thick mouth-feel. I also perceived a soft ocean flavor in this tea.

In contrast, the 2006 drank much more like a new tea. It had a delightful lilac aroma and a crisper medium-body with buttery notes. Perhaps the rubber gasket sealed in more freshness?

Both teas were long lasting and soaked for hours without bitterness. All in all I was pleasantly surprised by the taste of these two teas.

Although these two specimens are both spring Wenshan Baozhong teas from Pinglin, Taiwan they really have little else in common. They were made at different times by different people on different farms. But now they share the same fate. I'll now put them back in their little hide-away to await the next cupping.

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