Review: Driftwood Tea Organic Bao Zhong

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Thumbs up!"It is pleasant with an uncomplicated flavour and splendid touch of sweetness..."
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Although at first it seemed curious, the name Driftwood Tea seems appropriate with Driftwood tea, as the UK based company washes up in teas from China, India, Taiwan and even Thailand. Perhaps in keeping with their nature loving theme, they offer a number/ of organic teas which are a great find and also include several organically grown Thai oolongs. Their Organic Bao Zhong from Taipei County, Spring 2012 is just such an offering amongst their few oolongs. As my first tea from Driftwood Tea, setting afloat with an ooh log, I mean, oolong somehow made sense.

Washing ashore, their Bao Zhong has the usual tumble of curvy loosely folded leaves. Less usual, the tea has a few clusters amidst the mostly single whole leaves with stem, yielding an array of sizes from about a half inch small leaves to one inch tousled arcs. They are mostly a very dark brownish green, with twists of near black shading from dark fern, with the odd dapple of rust or light green open leaf that seem a bit out of place. A bit varied, the shapely leaves seem to wave towards their organic origins as does their light to medium leafy scent. Their scent has a lovely dried green leafiness, rapt by nature’s whimsy, lightly sweet with a touch of earth, encapsulating the fall breezes and a whisper of dandelion floral.

To set them leaves afloat, Driftwood Tea suggest steeping a half tablespoon or three grams for two minutes or Gongfu brewing with a full tablespoon per 150 mL for 45 seconds. Both at 80 C. I opted for the lesser leaf for longer which brings a light to medium yellow cup, lightly rippled with a leafy, buttercup strewn bouquet. While it has a flutter of the milky honey of Bao zhong’s, the scent is a bit more vegetal scented, like cooked celery, than floral. It still has flickers of sweetness but does seem near green tea like. Dipping in, the aroma brings a subtle sweetness with just a nudge of floral infusing a green twiggy flavour that’s also a bit like cooked celery. While a medium body, the tea’s flavour is less expansive and articulated. It is pleasant with an uncomplicated flavour and splendid touch of sweetness, even though the taste doesn’t seem quite in balance with its weight. Yet, the feel is silky, smooth with just a touch of a refreshing lift Bao zhongs can have, but it flows nicely into a light aftertaste where a wild floral lends one last trickle of delight.

Floating along, the second infusion is just as brightly hued after three minutes. Still fragrant, the scent isn’t so distinctive with a subtle waxy floral in its tide that brings to mind squash blossoms and wild flowers and soaked rice. Although the body lightens slightly and it’s drier, it retains a softly pleasing feel. The flavour is also a bit undecided; nice, but not really vegetal or grainy, with a mild current of meadowy green reediness. It gets prettier in the light finish with a burst of slightly fruity green pepper that builds to a sweeter dandelion.

It is possible to get a third cup which has a hint of a sweetness in a drier, starchy scent despite a similar goldenrod colour. There is a light waxy, sappiness against a mildly starched flavour to make it seem more reed-like while it tingles on the tongue with little aftertaste.

Although organic teas are becoming increasingly available, it’s great to see the selection grow. Whistling down the stream, Driftwood Tea’s Bao Zhong is a splendid addition. It makes more of a bloop than a splash with less of the honeyed florals of some Bao zhongs, yet, with its smooth, rippling flow, it is as tasty as it is pesticide free.

— To purchase Driftwood Tea Organic Bao Zhong, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

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