What is Pouchong tea?
Pouchong (Bao Zhong) tea is a very lightly fermented variety of Formosa (Taiwanese) oolong. Native to the Wen Shan region of northern Taiwan, it is harvested in both spring and winter. Thanks to a minimal oxidation level of less than 20%, Pouchong tea is widely accepted as the ‘greenest’ of all oolongs. The name ‘Bao Zhong’, meaning ‘wrapped style’, alludes to the lightly rolled and twisted form of the dry tea leaves.
What kind of tea is it?
Pouchong tea is traditionally produced from the qing xin cultivar, though modern tea masters also craft it from others including jin xuan. It has characteristically long leaves that are twisted via slow rolling during processing. This preserves their fresh, uplifting, floral and melony notes inside, releasing them into your cup when you brew the tea.
Pocket-friendly, premium, and everything in between
There are many factors at work that decide how good a batch of Bao Zhong will be. Pouchong teas harvested in winter and spring tend to be the most sought after. These get maximum cloud cover through the year, because of which they’re low on catechins and rich in L-theanine. The tea cultivar used is another decider. Generally speaking, premium Bao Zhongs are made from the Qing Xin cultivar. The price you pay for your Pouchong tea will also depend on whether it comes from a single plantation or features a blend of tea leaves from multiple tea gardens. Given all these considerations, Pouchong teas have over a dozen grades, and prices can vary from $25 a pound to upwards of $1500 a pound!
Tasting notes and reviews
Pouchong tea gives you a smooth, creamy sip, and leaves you with a lingering floral finish. Its scent presents a mixed bag of floral and woodsy notes, and the aftertaste often includes a hint of almond. Generally, Pouchong tea has a “light”, “buttery” texture that makes it a good “afternoon sipper”. Its “wildflower” and “melon” notes lend themselves well to honey, together leading to a “crisp flavor profile” that almost “dances on the tongue”.
- Good quality Pouchong tea generally lasts through multiple infusions. It doesn’t come with too many rules regarding the steeping time and the quantity of tea to be used for each infusion. You can play with both to derive your preferred notes and brew strength. However, the water temperature should ideally be maintained at about 190-200F. Boiling water can turn your tea bitter, while lukewarm water might not be able to effectively extract the aroma and taste of the tea leaves.
- Also try other Taiwanese oolongs: Oriental Beauty and Milk oolong are some of the most popular.