Since I bought two packs of different grades of baozhongs last weekend… I should actually try them.
Generally speaking, I’m not a big baozhong drinker. Nor, for the matter, am I a big Taiwan oolong drinker in general. That’s largely because my body doesn’t take it too well. A lot of Taiwan oolongs are really green these days with low oxidation and little to no roasting. It’s a bit much for me sometimes. But when in Rome… act like the Romans do, I guess.
The teas are actually almost indistinguishable in dry form.
Or, for that matter, in the brewed form
Any differences in colour you see is mostly due to the slight difference in positioning relative to the light source. I’d say that if I had given one of these to you and asked you to guess, your chance of getting it right would not be much higher than 50%.
There is a bit of a difference in the dry leaves — the aroma coming from the tea when it hits the warmed gaiwan. The cheaper one (left) has a slight smell of something grainy — a little like some kind of lightly toasted grains. The right one is more floral — smelling like a gaoshan oolong.
The same is largely reflected in the taste. The left one is clearly the weaker tea, tasting a bit more watery, while the right one is more full bodied, with a deeper and more complex flavour. The teas are hard to tell apart when dry, but when in tea form and drunk, anybody with a tongue can probably tell which one is better. I used the same amount of tea in both gaiwan, measured by my scale, and the difference in taste is obvious. The better one also lasted longer — about 5 infusions, whereas the weaker one was tasting watery earlier. You might even say it tasted watery right away.
Then again, the better one is double the price of the cheap one. So you do pay for what you get.
The wet leaves…. look similar, although I feel that the expensive one is a little more sturdy than the cheap one. It’s quite subtle though, the differences.
This is the cheap one
And the better one
So, the difference is really pretty much all in the taste (and smell). It was interesting, if nothing else. I still prefer them roasted.
P.S. I really need to fix the lighting situation for picture taking. It’s horrible 🙁