drank Bai Ji Guan by Verdant Tea
1049 tasting notes

Where to begin with this one? Bai Ji Guan is a classic Wuyi oolong cultivar. Along with Da Hong Pao, Tie Luohan, and Shui Jin Gui, it is one of the Four Famous Bushes. Of the four, it is often believed to be the least popular, at least in the West. Being a big fan of Wuyi oolongs, I jumped at the opportunity to try this one since I had never been able to try this cultivar before.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 208 F water for 5 seconds. I followed this initial infusion up with 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 8 seconds, 11 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves gave off a vegetal scent somewhat reminiscent of a Japanese green tea. Verdant describes it as a matcha-like aroma, and I can see that being at least somewhat accurate. I also picked up the same aromas of hay, sweetgrass, and watercress noted by the folks at Verdant, as well as a slightly herbal scent. After the rinse, the intense vegetal aromas were still present, though I also noted the emergence of subtle roasted nut and mineral aromas. The first infusion produced a notably more balanced aroma that also displayed a hint of citrus. In the mouth, the vegetal notes dominated the entry. The expected touches of hay, sweetgrass, and watercress were there, though there was also something that reminded me a little of radish. Once the vegetal notes calmed, I immediately picked up notes of basil, sage, roasted nuts, and minerals. Subsequent infusions saw the vegetal character mellow, as fruitier qualities began to emerge. Aromas and flavors of honey, mandarin orange, green apple, nectarine, golden raisin, and lime zest presented themselves, creating an interesting contrast with the tea’s more vegetal and savory qualities. Later infusions saw the vegetal character return, though mostly to frame the now suddenly more pronounced aromas and flavors of minerals, sage, roasted nuts, and basil.

Now that I have had some time to process this, I am left with the impression of a busy, complex tea with surprising depth. I found the integration of aromas and flavors to be masterful. Compared to some of the other Wuyi oolongs I have consumed, this almost came across as a hybrid of a green tea and a traditional oolong. Indeed, I found it to display some of the best characteristics of both. Though this is the first Bai Ji Guan I have tried and I have no idea how this one compares to some of the others on the market, I feel that if I was able to enjoy this one as much as I did, then this cultivar and I are going to get along famously. I think I could confidently recommend this tea to those who are fans of both oolongs and green teas and who wouldn’t mind the idea of trying something a little different.

Flavors: Grain, Grass, Green Apple, Hay, Herbs, Honey, Mineral, Orange, Raisins, Roast Nuts, Sage, Vegetal

Boiling 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.



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