October 06, 2016

Totem Tea - Wen Shan Baozhong

Before I started drinking tea, I was unfamiliar with the word shan. It means mountain. In fact, before I started drinking oolong, and Taiwanese oolong specifically, shan was not a term I regularly encountered. Wenshan is a district in southern Taipei. I believe Wen Shan translates to Fist Mountain. Bao zhong, which translates to "wrapped in paper", is another term I did not encounter before drinking tea and specifically oolongs. The practice of wrapping a particular twisted oolong in paper was developed by Wang Yi Cheng, an Anxi merchant and was adopted by tea producers in Wen Shan. I don't know if modern day baozhongs are wrapped but the moniker does refer to twisted leaf oolong from Pinglin in Taipei.

I received a sample of this tea from Totem Tea and enjoyed two sessions. I used the recommended water temperature of 195F for both sessions. The suggested steep time was 60s which I followed. I failed to double subsequent steep times but my decision did not negatively affect my experience. The dry leaves were long, about 2 inches, and twisted and smelled sweet, creamy, and woody. There was an even mix of leaf and stem. The leaves were green and medium and very dark brown in color. The quickly rinsed leaves smelled floral, a bit herbaceous and woody, sweet, and creamy. The infused leaves looked and smelled like a steamed green leafy vegetable.

The average color of the liquor was a pale golden yellow. I infused the leaves five times during each session. I detected tropical fruit possibly papaya. Although the floral notes were dominant, there were contrasting savory, vegetal aromas. This tea was very easy to drink; it was smooth with a creamy, velvety texture.

Wenshan Baozhong courtesy of Totem Tea.

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