Multiple Taiwanese tea sellers and farmers have told me this year is the year for good Baozhong. Today’s review is a comparison between Floating Leaves Tea‘s Farmers Choice and Competition Baozhong. One of Floating Leaves Tea’s popular oolong is the Farmer’s Choice Baozhong. Year after year, Farmer’s Choice Baozhong is a high body and reliable oolong, that is much cheaper than the Competition grade, which makes it a great buy. With killer Baozhongs this year, Competition Style Baozhong might give Farmer’s Choice a run for its money. To be honest, I find Baozhongs just too green for me, so I usually pass, but this year I was wowed and purchased both from Floating Leaves Tea to have some fun. Let’s roll!
Dry Leaf and Steeping Method
Comparing them both, the Competition style has bigger and longer leaf. Smell wise, I really can’t tell the difference, but both smell fantastic, buttery, and floral.
Floating Leaves Tea tells you to boil your oolongs, including these super green Baozhongs. That said, I did around 1 gram of leaf to 16ml of vessel size, steeping with boiling water. I love being able to double gaiwan things, I find comparison tastings a lot of fun. Farmer’s Choice is on the left and Competition Style is on the right.
Steeped up, the Farmers Choice has a bit more brown in some of the leaf whereas Competition Style Baozhong smells a little more floral.
Tasting of 2017 Baozhongs from Floating Leaves Tea
First, Second, Third, and Fourth Infusion: Interestingly, the Farmer’s Choice is the darker tea.
Farmer’s Choice Baozhong is smooth, savory, thick and buttery. The sip is like melted butter, with the flavor smooth of buttered corn and husk. The aftertaste is a big shift from the sip, with a sweet floral note that is stronger than the tea. I always enjoyed how dense Farmer’s Choice body is it is like drinking a thick smoothie.
Competition Style Baozhong is also dense, thick, and buttery, however, the flavor is brighter, defined, but lacks the savory note. It is crisply floral and sweet, with also a sharp, harder hitting floral aftertaste. It leans closer to tulip bouquet, with fat juicy aloe notes. Competition teas, to me, always taste brighter. Competition Style Baozhong is also dense in body, but sharper – like a pungent crisp, freshly pressed juice.
Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion:
Farmer’s Choice Baozhong is starting to get bitter here. However, Farmers Choice is still creamy, buttery and leaning on the savory with heavy vegetal flavors. It kind of reminds me of Gai Lan with that sweet with bitter vegetal note. The aftertaste is starting to slip, but still a nice floral sweetness that lingers. I am finding starting at the sixth infusion that I am losing flavor and it is getting drier.
With these infusions, this is where I noticed Competition Style Baozhong is shining. It is still going strong with heavy, dense body that sinks into your gut when you drink. It is brightly crisp and floral that sings after each sip. I want to drink this one more slowly to enjoy all the flavors and feels. With each infusion, the flavor is getting more vegetal and savory, but the finish is still crisp and floral.
Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Infusion: I did long infusions here, around 10 to 20 minutes.
Farmer’s Choice Baozhong had very little flavor left, leaning more to herbal notes, and has dry feel in the mouth. I stopped at the eighth infusion as it completely died.
Competition Style Baozhong is still going. It is slightly astringent but interestingly heavy, vegetal sappy in flavor. It still is slick feeling and makes you float with the pretty floral aftertaste, which is a more vegetal this time around. The final infusion is clean, crisp aloe and sticky dryness, with all the floral gone.
I have had both Baozhong teas a number of times both separately, compared together, and of previous years. This particular session Farmer’s Choice sang to me and did better than other sessions with that dense buttery savory thick body. Generally, Floating leaves Tea’s Farmer’s Choice Baozhong is the pick for types who want a high body tea with depth, not necessarily a pretty bright floral baozhong. I really enjoyed the early infusions’ contrast of savory body and sweet floral finish.
Competition Style Baozhong especially shines with an excellent crisp floral flavor and impressive resteep power. I enjoyed the complex floral notes until the last couple infusions, where it got more savory, but yet not too astringent. Previous years I found Competition Style Baozhong are generally just as bright and floral, but crash and burns after 4 or 5 infusions into bitter overcooked sludge. It is meant to judged on bowl or taster set to be awesome, yet not for the long haul.
Both 2017 Baozhong teas are great, a lot of it boils down to personal preference of wanting more floral notes. Farmer’s Choice Baozhong is still reliable, but this year’s Competition Style Baozhong is the better bang for infusion power.
Either way, snag some 2017 Baozhong – it is good this year and don’t miss it.