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29th July 2020


Baojing Gold: In Context

Written by Will

How does it compare to five other teas?

Every year we dedicate most of early spring to finding that year’s most outstanding expression of green tea. Spring is the prime season for green tea because the first buds that cover the tea bushes in March have all the nutrients and fresh flavour compounds that the bushes have been developing and storing during the dormant winter months. The teas that are made from these buds are the best encapsulation of fresh, spring flavours.

This year we found Baojing Gold, from Hunan, China. It’s a tea which not only captures the essence of spring freshness, but also one that rarely finds its way outside of China. It’s hand-picked in early Spring and crafted into a refreshingly sweet and vegetal green tea. It feels almost velvety in the mouth, but it was the umami finish (which is unusual in Chinese green tea) that made us sit up when we first tasted it. I’ve gone into detail about the people and places behind this tea and how we found it here and now in this piece, I will be comparing the character and taste of Baojing Gold with some of our favourite spring teas. I hope it will help you decide if its flavours are for you and perhaps also show you some other teas to enjoy.

Bright and fresh tasting buds flourish on the tea plants in early Spring
Bright and fresh tasting buds flourish on the tea plants in early Spring.
Vivid green pickings during the withering stage at the start of the tea making process
Vivid green pickings during the withering stage at the start of the tea making process.

What are the essential taste and characteristics of Baojing Gold?

The simplicity of this being a tea made from tender young, hand-picked buds is captured in the cup. The aroma is very pure with a captivating sense of fresh pastures and wildflowers. The taste is sweet and grassy at first but becomes crisper and more vegetal, before finishing with a pleasantly savoury umami. Another thing to note with this tea is that the texture is very rounded and soft, which gives an impression of milkiness; it looks milky too as the infusion is an opaque light green.

A basket full of freshly picked, tender buds and leaves
A basket full of freshly picked, tender buds and leaves.

Baojing Gold vs Jade Sword

As an entry level green tea Jade Sword is a fantastic all-rounder. It has tonnes of grassiness and refreshment, without any of the noted bitterness and astringency that most people find with green tea. When compared to Baojing Gold it is comparable in terms of balance and it’s smooth texture but it has much less complexity. The youngest, early picked buds of the tea plant used to make Baojing Gold lend the tea a much more expressive effect in the mouth. It starts with sweet and floral flavours that unfurl into rich vegetal notes and umami. If you’re just getting into green tea and you want vegetal freshness and some body, then Jade Sword is a must-try. If you want to jump into something really refined and lighter that you can take a little more time over then give Baojing Gold a try.

Baojing Gold vs Gyokuro

Gyokuro is the jewel of Japanese green tea, prized for its complex floral sweetness and vegetal flavour, all balanced by a deep umami and a lingering, sweet finish. Compared to Gyokuro, the crisp, vegetal flavour of Baojing Gold is lighter but certainly pronounced and well balanced. Gyokuro is much richer and deeper with a more present umami sensation that you can really feel in the finish, balanced by more prominent floral fragrance. Both teas, however, showcase just how smooth and creamy thick green tea can be. If you enjoy an exceptional, fresh tasting, light green tea and want some umami depth then try Baojing Gold. If you want to experience a richer, more complex tea with stronger umami depth then go for Gyokuro.

The finished tea produces a refreshing taste with a unique umami depth.
The finished tea produces a refreshing taste with a unique umami depth.
In China, spring green teas are often enjoyed using a traditional porcelain gaiwan to infuse the leaves
In China, spring green teas are often enjoyed using a traditional porcelain gaiwan to infuse the leaves.

Baojing Gold vs Genmaicha

This Japanese green tea is very different, but offers a great expression of rich umami flavour. Genmaicha is made using steamed green tea that is blended with toasted and popped rice. Unlike Baojing Gold, the focus is less on the verdant, floral and typically refreshing spring character, but more on the warming toastiness from the rice that blends so well with the delicious umami from the steamed green tea. Both are really satisfying, smooth and very easy to enjoy with a hint of savouriness that’s balanced by a pleasant, sweet grassiness. Try Genmaicha if you’re looking for a green tea that’s more warming and savoury, but go for Baojing Gold if you’re looking for refinement and refreshment with a small dose of umami.

Baojing Gold vs Silver Needle Supreme

This is a very high quality white tea. Like Baojing Gold it’s made using the young buds of spring, but being a white tea, it is simply hand-picked and left to wither in the sun and dry very slowly. In comparison, green teas like Baojing Gold have heat applied to them to lock them in their fresh state. The flavour of Silver Needle is much more floral and meadow, with no vegetal taste. It’s also very thick, but instead of being milky it is syrupier in texture. You’ll get some notes of melon, cucumber and complex woodiness too. Baojing Gold has a similar fresh meadow fragrance, but the extra green tea processing gives a complexity of freshly cut grass and crisp, green vegetable umami. Both are sweet and refreshing teas, made to capture the essence of the spring season, so if you want something that’s fresh and pure with a mellow but bright complexity then try Silver Needle Supreme. If you want all that freshness but with a richer, green vegetal complexity then go for Baojing Gold.

Mr Long's stunning tea garden in Ludong Mountain, Hunan
Mr Long's stunning tea garden in Ludong Mountain, Hunan.

Baojing Gold vs Ali Shan

Ali Shan is an oolong tea that’s green-ish in nature and leans towards the more refreshing, lighter side of the oolong spectrum. Despite this greenness, it is quite different to Baojing Gold. Ali Shan is much fruitier with no umami and only a hit of the crisp and buttery green veggies that you would find in spring green tea. However the two teas are similar in their milky and thickly textured qualities. Ali Shan is made using the Jin Xuan cultivar of the tea plant, which is also known as the ‘milky oolong’ cultivar. This gives it a very thick texture and creamy flavour along, with refreshingly fruity and floral notes. Baojing Gold has less of that milky flavour but certainly appears milky in the cup and is equally thick, smooth and refreshing to drink, but with more vegetal and umami flavours. So try Ali Shan if you want something that’s refreshing and quenching with lots of fruit and a thick creamy texture, and try Baojing Gold if you want refreshment from a lighter tea that is more velvety than creamy and will have more delicate floral flavours and prominent vegetal notes.