Topic: What is Sezhong? 色种
I noticed a post on another internet forum about Sezhong. The author had found lots of vendors selling this tea, but was not quite sure what exactly it was, besides that it was an Anxi Oolong.
A friend of mine came back with a Sezhong from Anxi that he liked quite a bit especially considering the price, 22 RMB or 3 USD per 500g. The farmer who sold it to him had made all sorts of claims about it. It came from old tea trees that were not fertilized and not sprayed with pesticides. It was completely organic, and for that reason it was served at The Great Hall of the People in Beijing (an important government building.)
But what is it?
A tea merchant from Anxi came to the same friend's shop today, so I took the opportunity to ask him. According to this Anxi native, Sezhong is a sort of catchall term for any Anxi oolong which is not Tieguanyin, or TGY mixed with other varietals. Tieguanyin is considered the best Anxi varietal, and all others are second rate.
I also checked baidu.com's baike, a sort of Chinese Wikipedia. The article is pretty good, if a bit long winded.
According to baike, In the 1950's Anxi oolong was divided into 3 categories. Tieguanyin, Sezhong, and Oolong. Sezhong is the second rate tea, and the oolong is the cheapest. Sezhong includes varietals such as Maoxie（毛蟹） Meizhan（梅占）Benshan（本山）and Qilan（奇兰）. The processing of all these varietals is very similar to Tieguanyin, but some dry more quickly than TGY, other steps in the processing must be altered slightly to preserve the qualities and tastes of each varietal.
The Sezhong which I had this past week was certainly mixed. It had some TGY, but about half was a very round leaf the likes of which I had never had before. It was quite good for a 3 dollar/lb. tea, but certainly not exceptional
I would like to know what others know about Sezhong. What have you been told? How about taste? Does everyone agree that TGY is the best Anxi varietal, or are others worth drinking too?