Bao Zhong Oolong – Green Oolongs

Bao Zhong Pouchong

Bao Zhong Oolong leaf and infused liquor.

Bao Zhong Oolong is a light creamy oolong that belongs to a group of oolongs called pouchong oolongs, or green oolongs. These oolongs are lightly oxidized, around 20%, which is typical of a green tea. However they are characterized as oolongs due to the steps taken in their manufacturing process and their sharper more melon like flavors.

History of Bao Zhong Oolong

The name Pouchong translates to “paper wrapped” tea. A reference to the older manufacturing process of wrapping the tea in paper as part of the drying process. As technology advanced to allow for more consistent ovens that better controlled the temperatures during the baking process to stop oxidation, this practice has stopped. Bao Zhong Oolong is now produced mainly in the northern part of Taiwan. However, you can periodically find Bao Zhongs from the Fujian province of China. Pouchong oolongs where produced in mainland China for many centuries, but fell out of favor during the 1800’s. Taiwan at that time was looking to distinguish its tea manufacturing from China and adopted the practice of Pouchong teas, which it still keeps today. Bao Zhong is produced in the Wen Shan mountains of Taiwan about 30 miles south of the capital city of Taipei. The terroir of the region is high mountain with ocean mist and fog blanketing the mountains most mornings and burning off later in the day. This gives the the right amount of moisture and sun, allowing for the perfectly subtle and yet complex flavors that are expected from this tea. This oolong is hand twisted as opposed to being balled like Ti Kuan Yin. The minimal handling and light oxidation of this oolong creates a light, creamy oolong that is closer to a green tea than most other oolongs.

Bao Zhong Pouchong

Infused Bao Zhong Oolong Leaf

How to Prepare Bao Zhong Oolong

Like other oolongs, you are going to use a lower water temperature. However, because of its green tea characteristics, the water temperature can be dropped even lower to 175°F. You can use 3 grams to 8 ounces of water and keep your steeping times between 2-3 minutes. If you happen to own a Gaiywan, and enjoy this way of consuming tea, this is a perfect tea to steep in it as it does contain smaller particulates that will come out  of the twisted leaves when brewed that give it a full mouth feel when consumed in the water. Bao Zhong oolong should sit on every tea drinker’s list as a tea you must try at least once to consider yourself a true tea connoisseur.

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Connoisseur Tea? Adventurous? Conventional? What’s with the tea categories?

If you’ve ever had some of our tea, experienced our Purcellville Virginia Tasting Room, or explored our website you may have noticed one of the icons below associated with our teas. Or maybe you just stumbled across these terms while looking for tea by experience on our website. Either way, we figured it was probably about time to clarify what these mean and why you will see them on our teas. Most tea drinkers are familiar with browsing teas by country or by tea type. But we wanted to offer an alternative way to search for great teas based simply on your experience with tea. In short, the idea is to group teas based on your preference for blended and/or flavored teas, something a bit more traditional, and something truly special in the world of tea. Each path offers great tea but is another way to help zero in on the perfect experience for you.

Connoisseur Tea, Adventurous Tea, or Conventional Tea

An alternative way to find new teas.

Conventional Tea

We categorize our conventional tea options as great tasting teas which are less traditional and are generally blended with other great ingredients like hibiscus, jasmine, ginger, or a host of other great additions. These teas may also be flavored to help add some pop to the aroma or flavor.

Adventurous Tea

For those who want to explore a bit more, or have an adventurous streak, we offer our adventurous teas. These teas generally step away from the added ingredients and flavorings and explore higher quality teas coming from unexpected or nontraditional regions. While most adventurous teas are not blends or flavored, there are some, especially with a base tea from named estates or geographic regions, or unexpected flavor combinations.

Connoisseur Tea

Finally our connoisseur tea selection is for those looking for some of the best tea available. You will find named teas (like Dragonwell, aka Longjing Tea) linked to a specific region or estate. Of all our tea categories, our connoisseur tea group reflects the best for experience tea drinkers, typically features teas of a premium pluck, and those that can be particularly difficult to obtain.

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5 Teas to Try Iced or Cold Brewed

Two great teas over ice.

Iced Ti Kuan Yin and Nilgiri

There are many teas that we associate with drinking hot that actually make great iced teas. It all comes down to getting your brewing time and amount of tea correct. Below are just five teas that people may overlook in trying to find new and fun iced or cold brewed tea options.

  1. Irish Breakfast – Yes, your favorite cup of black tea in the morning makes a perfectly good iced tea. You can thank the Assam tea from India that makes up the largest portion of this tea blend. Assam tea’s strong and astringent flavor holds over ice. This makes it a perfect tea for an Arnold Palmer(link to recipe).
  2. Sencha – This staple green tea from Japan is truly tasty cold brewed. If you not familiar with it check out an earlier post on cold brewing tea to find out how easy it is to have tea waiting for you first thing in the morning.
  3. Ti Kuan Yin – Also known as Iron Goddess Tea, this toasted oolong remains smooth and sesame in flavor over ice. It is a nice alternative to typical bold black tea used for iced tea. It also pairs nicely with strawberries or peaches, so feel free to add some to the pitcher or cup to change things up a bit.
  4. Moroccan Mint – This fragrant green tea is just as refreshing cold as it is hot. This one can be prepared either iced or cold brewed.
  5. Nilgiri – This beautiful black tea from India brews crystal clear and remains clear when cold, even after three days in the refrigerator. It also keeps its smooth woody and floral tea taste while cold. Lemon and sugar can be added with no problem. If you want to learn more about this beautiful tea and the region of India it comes from, check out this blog post.

These five teas are just the tip of the iceburg when it comes to ice tea options. So feel free to try your favorite tea cold, you may be surprised by how good it is.

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Huang Shan Mao Feng Tea and its History

Yellow Mountains with clouds below.

Yellow Mountains of Anhui Province, China – by Flickr User Chi King – CC BY 2.0

Huang Shan Mao Feng tea is rich in both flavor and history.  This amazing green tea is considered one of the most famous Chinese teas, being prized for its complex vegetal flavor and the shape of the finished tea leaves.

History of Huang Shan Mao Feng

Huang Shan Mao Feng comes from the Huang Shan mountains in the Anhui province of China. Huang Shan means yellow mountains, which they happen to be. These are the famous mountains often depicted in Chinese pictures with the pointy jagged rocks at the tip with trees jutting out from deep crevasses. This region provides the perfect terroir for tea, making it home to several famous Chinese teas. Huang Shan Mao Feng may be the youngest of these teas, becoming popular in the late 1800s CE, during the reign of the last Chinese imperial dynasty.

Most Chinese teas have a myth around their creation that reflect the ancient life of China, and this tea is no different. The story goes that a young maiden on a tea plantation fell in love with a local scholar. The plantation owner wanted her as his wife and forced her parents to give the young maiden to him. The night before the wedding the young maiden escaped and fled into the mountains to find the scholar, only to discover he was killed by the plantation owner. When she went to his grave deep in the mountains she cried over his body, turning it into a tea bush and herself into the rain and mist that covers the mountains almost daily.

Huang Shan Mao Feng Production

Huang Shan Mao Feng is made from the young growth of the bud and first leaf, and often have the noticeable silver hairs made famous by Bai Hao Silver Needle tea. It is shaped by hand into a mountain peak. The term Mao Feng mean furry peak. These needles will range in color from light to dark green and have a slight curve in their shape. This tea, like Dragon Well, is picked before the Qing Ming holiday and baked to stop the oxidation.

Steeping Huang Shan Mao Feng

Yellow Tea Huang Shan Mao Feng Leaf and Liquor

Yellow Tea – Huang Shan Mao Feng

You are going to use 3 grams per 8 ounces of water. If you do not have kitchen scale, use 2 tablespoons to get the 3 grams as this tea is very light and airy. The water should be between 175°-185° Fahrenheit. Allow the leaves to steep for 2 minutes for the first cup. Your second cup should be steeped for 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Your third cup should be steeped for 3 minutes. Notice how the flavor changes with the cups, going from a light grassy to a strong vegetal flavor.

If you have not had this tea before, stop into the shop for a tasting or order a sample online.  This tea reflects the skill of Chinese tea masters and the beauty of Chinese green tea.

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Flowering Teas – Artwork in a Tea Pot

Flowering teas in a teapot for two at Dominion Tea - Purcellville Tasting Room

Flower Burst enjoyed at our Purcellville Tasting Room in Loudoun County Virginia.

Flowering Teas are not only a good cup of tea but a beautiful piece of artwork. These relative new comers to the tea world require little work from the brewer and a clear glass teapot to truly enjoy.

History and the making of Flowering Teas

Flowering teas, or blooming teas, surfaced in the Chinese market in the 1980’s and started to make it into the US in noticeable volume in the 1990’s. These teas are a combination of tea leaves and flower petals that are sewn together in a pattern to create a flower when steeped in hot water. Always hand tied, these teas originated from the Yunnan province.

In choosing the flowers and tea leaves, the tea company focuses on the wow factor of the bloom opening and the color contrasts along with the flavor. Typically green tea is used as the base to create what will become the leaves of the flower. The tea may or may not be jasmine scented prior to being sewn together. The artists making these are working with wilted leaves that have not been baked yet, so there are a lot of possibilities on how they introduce flavor into the creation. Usually they are working with older leaves as they will hold up to the sewing and molding into shapes more than the younger.

Once the base is in place, using cotton yarn, they will stitch in the center flowers working from the outer flower petals into the center. Common flowers for this are jasmine, chrysanthemum, osmanthus, lily, hibiscus, and amaranth. These flowers impart their own scent and flavor to the tea. The creation is baked and slowly formed into the bud.

Brewing Flowering Teas

Flowering Burst tea balls and open in liquor.

Flower Burst tied flowering tea.

To enjoy a flowering tea, you really need a clear glass tea pot. Since you are working with a green tea and flower petals, you will need water in the 175-185 degree Fahrenheit range. Place the ball in the pot and then fill with water. The ball will float because of the air pockets formed in the ball while it was being stitched together. With time, the ball will absorb in enough water to start to sink. You can help it along using a spoon or chop stick to hold down the ball. Once you see air bubbles leaving the ball, you should be all set to allow the ball to sit and open. This can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes. Once the ball opens, feel free to pour yourself a cup of tea.

Using the Flowering Teas for Decoration

So once you have enjoyed that pot of tea, you can use the open flower as a decoration. Grab a glass vase or cup large enough to allow the flower to remain open in the bottom. Put the flower in the bottom and add enough cold water to allow the blossom to be fully covered. Add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar. The vinegar will slow the browning of the flower petals. You will need to change the water about every 3 days and the flower will stay for about 2 weeks before fading becomes very apparent. If may be less if kept in a spot with direct sunlight.

Add flowering teas to your tea collection and enjoy a beautiful center piece as well as a good cup of tea.

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