Organic Sencha from Marusen Isagawa Cooperative, Shizuoka, Japan. A personal new favourite addition to our organic range.
Our Organic Sourcing Journey
Three years ago, we set out to transform our range by moving primarily to organically sourced teas. We set the ambitious target of 80% of our teas to be certified organic or Made Without Pesticides by the end of 2022. Baojing Gold's
Why we are making the Organic switch
Organic Assam Gold Tonganagaon Garden, Assam, India. This garden creates a unique organic Assam back tea with refined flavours of red berries and honey – while maintaining the fortifying and ma
Whats the different between Certified Organic vs Made without Pesticides?
Either or is quite important. The Made Without Pesticides standard is our way of encouraging zero use of pesticides but without the significant expense of organic certification. It’s more suited to some of our smaller gardens, who export only a very small part of their tea and can’t justify formal certification. To meet the standard, we insist that the garden doesn’t use pesticides at any time of year, and we send the finished tea to a lab for intensive screening to ensure no residues are detected.
Zero use of pesticides and herbicides has similar advantages to certified organic practices for biodiversity in the garden, health of tea garden communities, producers, and our tea drinking customers.
The second of our spring teas to arrive for 2023, Baojing Gold is an ancient and rare tea native to the Miao People of Hunan – descendants of the legendary King Chiyou, one of the three founding fathers of China.
A recent resurgence in awareness of Baojing Gold has brought prosperity to the local farmers in this rural part of the country. After falling for its sappy, refreshing and umami-rich character, our Head of Tea Tom set out to taste more teas from the area and chose this outstanding batch from teamaker Shi Zehong – which is rarely seen or enjoyed outside of China, such is its popularity.
Tom with Red Dragon Tea Maker Chen Qiguang in Ximeng Garden, Yunnan, China. A small single garden which has a long standing Made Without Pesticides Certification with JING.
This tea is particularly high in amino acids - reportedly more than 7% - which are known for their numerous health benefits. A specialty of the local ‘gold tea’ cultivar from which Baojing Gold is grown, amino acids are also the sign of a high-quality tea.
It's rare to find a breakfast style tea from an organic single garden. Our Organic Yunnan Breakfast can be enjoyed with or without milk.
Where is JING on its organic journey?
Today, we sit at around 70% organic, representing an enormous change throughout our supply chain.
Some things haven’t changed – the organic teas I have selected all have the same character, taste, and individuality. That was the brief, to move to organic without compromising quality. Some voices in the tea industry would be sceptical that this is possible, and it’s true – I found some origins where organic tea distinctly differs from the flavours we expect. Assam is a good example: organic Assam is hard to find with similar bright red colour and punchy texture for a good breakfast tea. Japan is another place where conventional teas are often considered higher quality. In other areas, such as Yunnan in China, organic agriculture is becoming more widespread, and excellent examples already exist, such as our Organic Yunnan White Peony and Organic Yunnan Breakfast.
Marusen Isagawa Cooperative in Japan where our Organic Genmaicha is from. A rare but exciting find for Tom in 2022.
What are your favourite organic teas in our range?
Today, we sit at around 70% organic, representing an enormous change throughout our supply chain.
Organic Yunnan Breakfast
There's lots of organic black tea in Yunnan, but not so much aimed at the style needed for breakfast tea, with strong and impactful flavour when adding milk. So, I spend a lot of time sourcing each batch of this tea, and the current one is very satisfying, with a toffee sweetness that takes me back to first tasting this type of tea when I lived in Beijing in the early 2000s. It was a great pleasure to visit this garden for the first time on our spring 2023 sourcing trip. We could clearly see how the local conditions and a high mountain tea garden with native large-leaf cultivar contribute to this tea's unique character.
The climate is subtropical with mist covering the rolling hills
The climate is subtropical, and tea is grown in hilly terrain, meaning winter temperatures are cold and the tea bushes are dormant. There are several cultivars local to the area, and this year’s crop are from Huang Jin Cha No. 1 cultivar, grown without the use of any pesticides or artificial fertilisers.
A view over Xiangmiao Garden in Western Hunan, China
In spring, the bushes sprout new growth and from these buds and leaves, our Baojing Gold is made. These leaves are packed full of nutrients and flavour that the bushes have been storing over winter. Only the highest quality and tenderest buds are selected from the pickings, so the pure ‘essence’ of the spring garden is captured within this tea, with a fresh green fragrance and layers of delicious umami and meadow-sweet notes.
The stuff of legend
Baojing Gold has an extraordinary heritage that can be traced back as far as 1545. Ming Dynasty records at the time relate the story of a military inspection in the town Luqi (today named Hulu) where scores of visiting officials became suddenly unwell. In ancient China, unknown illnesses were often blamed on ‘miasma’, or poisonous air from the mountains.
The account continues that an elderly woman picked and boiled tea leaves from her century-old trees, managing to cure the suffering officials with the tea. As a gesture of thanks, Imperial Supervisor Lu Jie gifted the woman with a bar of solid gold – earning her tea the name ‘Baojing Gold’ – and decreed the restorative drink should be given as a gift to the Emperor.
Baojing Gold is picked in early March hand picked pre Qingming at the start of spring
Chatting to White Peony Tea Maker Mr. Yang Jian in Dahei Garden, Yunnan China.
Orgamic Yunnan White Peony?
This is one of the first teas we added after deciding to increase the proportion of organic teas in our range. Of the two styles of white peony tea in Yunnan, this is the greener style and brings with it rose aromas and a subtle fruity flavour, which took me some time to pin down but finally concluded, this reminded me most of nectarine. Its mellowness is a real feature, and I find myself reaching for it when otherwise undecided or in need of a comforting tea, perhaps with a hangover.
The mountainous garden sitting at 1900m above sea level in Dahei Garden, Yunnan China.
Most organic Japanese tea is from Kagoshima, but this one retains the Shizuoka origin of our non-organic version. It has the same high mountain character because it's from a similar area, very aromatic and floral with just a little astringency characteristic of the region, making it an excellent green tea for colder weather.
What's Next for our organic range transformation?
The teas that prove most stubborn for finding good organic examples are some of the traditional oolong types, famous in China and rarely exported. This is the next area of focus, and we have decided to work more closely with promising gardens to encourage a switch to our Made Without Pesticides standards. However, there will need to be a transition period. Typically, a conventional garden turning toward organic certification will spend three years before the certificate is issued. The most recent find is an organic version of our Wuyi Oolong, which is a Water Sprite cultivar – a tea I'm very excited about and looking to launch early in 2024...
The vital stats
Origin: Xiangmiao Garden, Baojing County, Hunan, China
Cultivar: Huang Jin Cha No. 1
Name: Baojing Gold / Baojing Huang Jin Cha 保靖黄金茶
Style: Spring-fresh green tea, thick and vegetal with pronounced umami
Terroir: Subtropical and hilly
Picking Season: Spring, March 2023
Leaf: Twisted sets of silver-grey buds and green leaves
Infusion: Thick and milky
Twisted sets of silver-grey buds and green leaves are indicators of a high quality Boajing Gold tea
Baojing Gold has a distictive large vibrant whole green leaf and small bud
The flavour profile ?
Born from fragrant tender tea buds, this is a pure and spring-fresh green tea. While thick and milky with pronounced umami, it also has a delicate, silky mouthfeel and soft character – with notes of the freshest spring flowers.
When to drink?
Delicate green teas can be drunk at any time during the day, but we really like to drink this tea in the early afternoon as it’s so refreshing. This tea will not work with food as you’ll lose a lot of the character and nuance with the flavours of the food dominating.
Baojing Gold has a beautiful spring garden aroma of fragrant tender tea buds, pure and fresh
Baojing Gold after its dried next the tea would be withered
The best way to enjoy it
3 minutes 4g / 2tsp 250ml 70 degrees 3 (can re-infuse twice)
Tall Glass Infusion Method:
We really recommend giving this method a go, as long as you don’t mind getting a few tea leaves in your mouth! It is the way that most spring green teas will be traditionally enjoyed in their home areas in China. All you need is a tall glass.
Delicately hand crafted this refreshing umami rich tea is highly prized at its origin and rarely finds its way outside of China
Use slightly hotter water than the 250ml method. Immediately you will notice that the fragrance or floral aromas are enhanced as they get captured at the top of the glass and are strong for the first few sips. The closer you get to the leaves, the more intense the flavours will be with the umami intensity really strong by the time you reach the last ¼ of the glass. We recommend topping up the glass when there is around 1/3 - ¼ left. You can use the leaves for almost a full morning or afternoon’s drinking – we really like the difference you’ll get from the top to the bottom of the glass as the infusions go on and on.
Try this: 4g/ 250ml; 90 degrees; 5 minutes. .
Preparing Baojing Gold to be hand holled, the last step in the production process
Who is it for?
Fresh with graceful umami and meadow-sweetness, for those of us who really love a spring tea to taste like spring, you can’t do much better than Baojing Gold.
Boajing Gold with a mouthfeel like a silk and a soft, milky character, you'll find notes of the freshest spring flowers and a standout umami finish
Switch Up Your Tea