Wen Shan Bao Zhong (Pouchong) oolong from Taiwan, winner of a 3-Star Great Taste Award in 2017 as well as being in the TOP 50 FOODS of 2017.
What the Great Taste judges thought: “A clean liquor with some woody flavours. There’s a great level of oxidation. Wonderful brassica, savoury notes but also sweetness.”
Wen Shan Bao Zhong (文山包種茶) is a rather famous light green-style oolong that is popular both in Taiwan and the West. It undergoes very slight oxidation and is sometimes classed as a green tea. It is often mistaken for a green tea due to its light flavour as well as the long shape of the leaves, which is not very common in lighter style of oolongs. As Wen Shan Bao Zhong does undergo some oxidation, however minimal, it would be incorrect to label it as a green tea and it does fall in the oolong category.
Wen Shan Bao Zhong is named after the tea producing region of Wen Shan, which is located in the New Taipei City Municipality in the north of Taiwan. This terroir produces some of the most popular and highly regarded Bao Zhong oolongs in Taiwan. The Bao Zhong name itself translates from Chinese as ‘wrapped kind’ and derives from the old practise of wrapping tea leaves into paper during processing. Although, thanks to modern tea processing this is no longer the case, the name has been preserved. The English name that is also used for Bao Zhong oolong is pouchong.
This Wen Shan Bao Zhong pouchong uses the Qing Xin ‘Green Heart’ (青心) cultivar. The altitude of the garden where it is grown is 300-400m and it is completely hand processed in order to preserve the long delicate leaves. The level of leaf oxidation is only around 10-15%.
This pouchong was plucked in October 2019, producing yet another great tea. The leaves are very long, dark green with a blue tint. You can see where oolongs get their ‘blue tea’ moniker from. The dry leaves have a slight floral scent with a hint of melon. The liquor produced is a light green colour with a gentle floral aroma. The flavours are of wild pasture flowers with some fruity notes. This tea is exceedingly smooth and gentle, keeping a great balance between freshness and lightness of a green tea and creaminess and mellowness of a classic Taiwanese oolong.
It is best brewed at 80°C for 2-4 minutes according to your taste. It should definitely be brewed multiple times, slowly increasing the steeping time with each next brew if desired.