Friday, May 31, 2013

The Seasons of Baozhong

I fell in love with Wenshan Baozhong tea (文山包種茶) after my first sip back in 2001. Since that day I've tasted many grades of this tea from many wonderful tea sellers.

My wife and I visited Pinglin, Taiwan (坪林,台灣) in 2007 and ever since that trip most of the Wenshan Baozhong tea that I've sold has come from the same small farm near this lovely town.

One thing that all tea lovers learn, soon after we get "bit by the tea bug," is just how important seasonality is to our favorite beverage. Regularly drinking baozhong tea from the same farm while chronicling my sessions in a journal and on this blog have given me a few personal insights to share with you about the seasonality of Wenshan Baozhong tea.

Wenshan Baozhong tea from Pinglin is usually produced in the winter (actually it's more like November depending on the weather but they still call it winter tea) and in the spring (usually April but sometimes it can be March or May depending on the weather). Some Pinglin tea farmers also produce other styles of tea such as Dong Fang Mei Ren (東方美人). In my experience Dong Fang Mei Ren is usually made in the summer or fall.

Today I'm drinking the spring 2013 Wenshan Baozhong that arrived at Phoenix Tea nine days ago. It is very buttery and floral with great lilac and mock-orange blossom aromas. The mouth-feel is good and there is a delicate brothy sea-vegetable note in a few early infusions. It has a very clean finish and a soothing energy that several other folks have commented on after sharing a few cups with me.

'Tis the Nectar of the Gods!

This spring 2013 baozhong tea is livelier than last spring's but it is not as dynamic in regards to mouth-feel and lingering aftertaste as the winter tea has been these last few years. I used to think spring baozhong tea was always lighter and more floral and winter tea was always bolder and fruitier but I've come across too many exceptions to still hold this as truth. The last couple years the spring baozhong tea and winter baozhong tea from this farm have been equally floral but the winter tea remains bolder and delivers more lingering aftertaste.

Also, winter baozhong tea, in my experience, is easier to brew. Any ole way I prepare it, winter baozhong tea has always tasted great and the aftertaste has been incredible. Spring tea, on the other hand, demands that I slow down and take care to use fresh, not-over-boiled, spring water and a larger pinch of dry leaf. If I manage to get everything just right it will reward me with heavenly aroma and a pearly, slippery feeling on my lips... otherwise it will fall flat. When this happens, spring baozhong can be too boring for me. Fortunately, every cup I've made of this new 2013 batch at Phoenix Tea has really delivered the goods. I guess I actually love spring and winter baozhong for different reasons and despite all that I've just written I try not to dwell on past teas while drinking a new tea because it's not fair to the tea that's presently being sipped. 

It's possible that your own experiences tasting winter and spring Wenshan Baozhong tea may be different from my own... but whatever they may be, please take a minute to share them with a comment! 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sorting Business Cards

Recently I took a few minutes to sort my box of business cards (aka name-cards) that I have collected over this last decade. I do this from time to time to reconnect with old customers or vendors. Most of the cards in my collection are tea related (either from Taiwan or from various trips to the World Tea Expo) but quite a few are from non-tea-industry tea-lovers that I have met throughout the years. My current favorite is from a Texas megadrilologist named George. His card features a black and white photo of a car driving along the highway with the word EARTHWORMS printed boldly along the top.

Dear Readers, if our paths should ever cross, please exchange business cards with me! I will keep your card in my special box for all time.