Red Blossom aged baozhong

Among the many samples I received yesterday from Adrian is one that I’ve heard of, but never tired. It’s a baozhong from Red Blossom, and it’s supposedly never reroasted. Others have told me about this tea before, so today, I get to try it.

(Forgot to take pictures!)

The dry leaves exhibit the same characteristics of unreorasted aged oolongs that I come to expect — a touch of fruity sourness in the aroma and a sort of intense fragrance that you only really get with the aging. Ok, so far so good. I brewed it with my black pot, and the first cup was indeed very nice. It’s like my biyuzhu, or the competition tea, in that they are all teas that are probably not reroasted since production (or at most only very lightly reroasted). The taste profiles are very similar, and this is the kind of aged oolongs that I have come to like the most.

Unfortunately, this tea drops off a little faster than I would prefer. By the third or fourth cup it was starting to weaken obviously. Part of it might be that I didn’t use quite enough leaves, but I do think this is the baozhong talking – baozhongs being traditionally a little meeker than their gaoshan oolong counterpart. Another aged baozhong I have that’s probably around 15 years old does the same thing — it drops off quickly. It’s unfortunate, but there’s not much to be done there.

Still, this is a pretty nice tea and I think a fair introduction to what I like to call “dry stored” aged oolong. I think the problem with a lot of the stuff on offer through the internet is that they tend to be heavily reroasted and dubiously aged. That’s fine if the tea is truly good and the reroasting is done very well, but often I just find teas that are charcoal tasting without any obvious merit. This tea is different.


Comments

Red Blossom aged baozhong — 6 Comments

  1. i too think pretty highly of this stuff. agreed, it’s not the greatest when it comes to longevity, but for better or worse, these days i rarely seem to get through more than 4 or 5 infusions of anything before i have to run off somewhere.

    for me, there’s also something nice about being able to support a local vendor. hmm, guess i’d better go get some more of this tea before there’s a run on it… 🙂

  2. Finally, a tea mentioned on this blog that I can easily obtain! I stopped by Red Blossom today and tasted some of this, along with three others. I haven’t brewed it at home yet, but a few notes from tasting it in the store: it was definitely different from the other aged oolongs I’ve had, which I think have all been tiekuanyins. The shopkeeper (Alice?) kept insisting that I should be tasting a “cranberry finish”. I tried, but couldn’t imagine any cranberry in there. What I did get was a very slight tartness and similar dry feeling to what you might get after drinking cranberry juice, so I suppose that’s what she meant. We only did four steeps, so I can’t speak for longevity yet.

    The other thing I noticed was the qi: I felt a warmth spreading across my back after drinking the first and second cups of this. To be fair, it was quite warm in SF today, but I’m pretty sure the feeling was due to this tea, since I didn’t feel it after either of the two earlier teas in the session.

    The tea preceeding this one, by the way, was called something like “ancient tree shuixian”. For me, with my limited experience, this was an excellent wuyi, that tasted full and complex despite being very lightly roasted (or at least roasted in such a way that it didn’t really have any roasted taste). It’s not on sale yet (they just have a sample), but will be pretty expensive when it is.

  3. @davidn – 

    Ah, I’m glad it worked out 🙂

    How did she brew it, if I may ask?

    I think calling it specifically “cranberry” is indeed a little difficult to get, but I think a general “fruity tartness” is probably something all of us can relate to. That, I think, is one big reason why I generally don’t try to specify what I’m tasting…. it’s not possible! 🙂

  4. She said that she likes to brew it “like a puerh”, which means something like near-boiling water (maybe 200 deg F) and relatively short steeps. The first was probably about 30s, and the second maybe 60s, but I wasn’t paying too close attention. She brewed it in a small gaiwan.

    Another random thought: when you buy tea from the retail store, they take it from the tins on the shelves (see the second picture on this page). The tins are opaque and airtight, but you’re allowed to open any of them to look and smell. So the tea in the tins is definitely getting some air circulation, except maybe the unpopular ones on the top shelf. I wonder if that affects this tea in any way, since I’ve heard oolongs should be aged without exposure to the environment. I don’t know if they take tea for online orders from these tins also, or from separate storage in the back.

  5. @davidn – 

    Those are long steeps, so I’m going to guess she didn’t use that much leaves

    I think you don’t have to worry too much about the air circulation. It really depends on the individual aged oolong, from what I’ve noticed. As long as you’re not seeing obvious sourness, you should be ok.

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