Red Circle Tea

Taiwan competition grade Baochong

It’s a beautiful sunny day on Pinglin, Taipei. It rains about 300 days a year on WenShan Mountain, so it’s sort of a miracle that we chose a day when the sun was shining. Come to think of it, this is my 4th visit to these mountains, and I don’t remember a day it did not rain at least part of the day. How very lucky!

First, we stopped to visit the competition winning tea farmer’s shop.

We were served a medium grade of Baochong just to whet our palate. It was grassy and green, a little too hay like and drying to the tongue to be a competition grade. How was the harvest this year we asked? This year’s harvest was early because there were an extra 15 days in the Taiwanese Farmer’s Lunar Almanac. Picking for spring Baochong began on April 10th, early. It was dry in February, but there was too much rain in March. If it had rained in February it would have been better. There was a lot of rain this year and not at the best of times. So, we were told, this year’s tea is not as strong as last year’s tea and we found that was true in the brew as well.

Next, we tried this year’s version of the tea we purchased last year (3rd place competition winner) and all the top notes were there, but some of the depth we had tasted in last year’s tea was missing. Still, his signature fragrance, perfectly processed leaves and overall clarity of the tea liquid make this an outstanding tea for it’s grade. This will be the tea he submits to the competition to compete for the 3rd prize. The tea must be submitted tomorrow, and they will name the winner on the 20th. We took a bet and purchased the tea before the winner is announced. [Insert pictures of dry leaves and brewed tea.]

The growing and harvesting cycle for Baochong is much different from Hangzhou Shi Feng Dragon Well.

In the spring there is a Baochong harvest. Then, for late spring, there is a harvest that is made into “Oriental Beauty” tea, then, in summer some farmers make red tea. Then, the trees are cut back for fall. They grow a bit more and there is a winter harvest which, if good, can also be submitted for the winter Baochong competition. Finally, the tea shrub is not cut back again, but left to “sleep” then grow more until the spring buds show and the harvest comes again.

There was no snow this year, but a bit of frost that does not seem to have done any damage, and his trees are 10 years old and growing strong.

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