Tea Ave Wenshan Baochong

Origin: Ping Ling District, New Taipei City, Taiwan
Harvest: 2014
Cultivar: QinXin Oolong
Elevation: 400-800m

I decided finally write this review, I put off looking at another Tea Ave tea ever since they launched their site, not because I do not like Tea Ave teas, but Tea Ave had a very successful PR campaign leading to them being everywhere. I do not know how many samplers they sent out before they launched, but I have a feeling they sent out a lot judging by their presence on the various tea forums I regularly read. In fact when I published my Tea Ave preview I did so prematurely. I have not discussed why I publish my reviews or even what I get out of this blog. I do not make any money off this blog, but I do get the occasional samples; for every ten queries from tea vendors I reject nine of them for a number of reasons. In fact the few companies that I accept samples from I regularly buy tea from. If you have been an attentive reader of this blog you may notice I always disclose at the beginning of my posts whether or not I received samples for the sake of review.

As I already said I do not get any money from this blog, the primary reason I write this blog is that I enjoy having a space to record some of the teas I try and recommending teas that I enjoy or think are interesting. While I do try to limit the posts on this blog to teas I either enjoy drinking or at the very least have interesting characteristics I try not to post my thoughts on teas that I do not enjoy. This may come as something of a shock to some, but there are quite a lot of teas that I do not like, even more scandalous there are teas from some of my favorite vendors that I do not enjoy.

Regardless I finally feel like the various tea forums I read are not oversaturated with reviews of Tea Ave’s teas. Tea Ave describes their Wenshan Baochong as:

If oolong tea can be chic, Wenshan Baochung is it: sophisticated, refined, unctuous (save it for your fanciest friends—or for yourself). One of the most fragrant oolong teas in the world, Wenshan Baochung is known for its rich, long-lasting aroma (we highly recommend enjoying it with our aroma cup). Unroasted with floral aromas, most of Wenshan Baochung Oolong’s tea leaves are unoxidized, giving it a quality reminiscent of a green tea with a dash of Dong Ding. Floral notes and aroma arise naturally from the tea leaves.
Wenshan Baochung Oolong grows in the Wenshan region of Northern Taiwan, where the year-long mild climate and fog-filled air give the tea a distinct, refined quality. Wenshan Baochung tea turns a golden honey-green color when infused and has a delightful floral flavor with a sweet finish.
Tea leaves are bright green and twisted into long strands.

The only statement I disagree with Tea Ave’s description is “save it for your fanciest friends—or for yourself” makes this sound more like the kind of tea you want to save for special occasions, but I feel this is more of a daily drinker. I know some see the phrase “daily drinker” as a slight, as an inexpensive tea perhaps of dubious origins, but I am not using it in that sense. I like to describe some Taiwanese Oolongs (LiShan, DaYuLing, etc) as being like cotton candy, something that is quite enjoyable, but you cannot live off them; while daily drinkers are more nutrious. As much as I enjoy DaYuLings, I do not think I could ever regularly drink them, while teas like this I could easily see myself drinking this often.

Dry Leaves: The leaves are very aromatic, there are a lot of floral notes, but the strongest is orchid. The dry leaves are pretty evenly blue and green, generally in my experience in lower quality baochongs I often see leaves that are mostly blue while in higher quality baochongs I often see mostly greens; I rarely see baochongs that are equally balanced like this. While the color of the leaves do not always telegraph the quality of a tea, for a baochong I like to assess the quality by the aroma of dry leaves and the aroma of these leaves is simply amazing. I can see the occasional stem which I do not often see in Baochongs. 

First Steeping
Temperature: 190oF
Brewing Time: One Minute
Aroma: Floral and Vanilla
Flavor: Orchid, Honeysuckle, Spinach and Honey
Tasting Notes: As always with Taiwanese oolongs I did a quick rinse with boiling water. I decided to not follow the recommended brewing parameters Tea Ave lists on their website and their packaging, not because I disagree with what they recommend, but I feel that brewing this in very short steepings will not produce very different tastes and aromas in subsequent steepings and if I brewed this for long periods of time I would undoubtedly miss out on some of the subtler flavors and aromas. Long time readers may have noticed I have a template for how I write my reviews, I generally only post my notes on the first three steepings of any tea, and I feel that the first three steepings are the most important. Not surprising this is a very floral tea, although there is a bit of a vegetal notes coming out.

I rather enjoyed the honeysuckle notes more so than the orchid ones, but I found the spinach notes lingered a bit which was a nice contrast to the floral notes; while the vegetal flavors pale in comparison to more vegetal teas like senchas (etc) I always enjoy Taiwanese oolongs that have both floral tastes and vegetal ones.

Second Steeping
Temperature: 195oF
Brewing Time: Two Minutes
Aroma: Floral and Vanilla  
Flavor: Orchid, Honeysuckle, Violet, Spinach and Honey
Tasting Notes: The floral flavors are becoming more intense! I’m rather enjoying how these very strong floral notes are interacting with the spinach.

It was not until this steeping that I realized how much I liked the vanilla aroma of the tea. I do not often encounter vanilla scents in oolongs as green as this, but it was quite enjoyable although it did kind of clash with the floral notes

Third Steeping
Temperature: 200oF
Brewing Time: Three Minutes
Aroma: Floral and Vanilla
Flavor: Floral, Spinach, Nutty and Honey
Tasting Notes: I’m sad to say the floral notes are starting to become less distinct, this tea still has quite a lot of life left, but from here on out it starts to become simpler. Although I am happy to say the spinach and nutty notes do not wane until the very end.

This is a very lovely Baochong, at the time of writing this Tea Ave is selling this for $13.75 (CAD) for 25g is well worth the price. It definitely ranks pretty high on the baochungs currently being sold between $10-15, you can tell it is machine harvested, but it tastes much more like a hand plucked tea.


Just a guy who likes tea.