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The Quest for Sweet Bai Mu Dan (白茶)

[2013.06.19] Posted By

bai mu dan
We have released Bai Mu Dan. The best Bai Mu Dan is plucked in March. I personally went to Fuding around 20th of March to select the tea right on the spot. In Fuding, the first flush buds are used for Silver Needle and the remaining two leaves are usually used for producing Bai Mu Dan. The tea plucked from April onwards are also often used to produce Bai Mu Dan. However, we looked for the Bai Mu Dan that was plucked in March which consists of 1 bud and 2 leaves.

Why do we need to look for the March-plucked tea?

Do you know, the tea plucked in March is worthwhile? Well, usually tea is not only available during spring. However, after the tea is harvesting, the tea tree will produce a new batch of buds within 2-3 weeks later. The farmers would be able to continue harvesting the tea throughout the year except during the winter season. There are some tea gardens in China who carry out tea plucking for even up to 12 times a year. During the beginning of the seasons, the tea trees grow slowly due to the cold weather, bringing about a more abundant content of minerals and polyphenol in the tea leaves. Based on my experiences, the difference between the early-plucked tea and the late-plucked tea are as follow:
Tea leaf of Bai Mu Dan

tea garden of bai mu dan

tea leaf of bai mu dan

Body

When the tea is plucked during the end of the season, the body of the tea would become lighter which would also effects the heaviness of the taste and the expansion of the flavour of tea. A tea with a lighter body, the taste becomes sharp and light making you feel that the flavour is not strong enough.

tea leaf of bai mu dan

After Taste

The after taste of a tea is not significantly related to the timing of tea plucking. The after taste of tea is quite subjective. For certain tea, the late-plucked tea produces quite strong after taste.

Dryness

The later the tea leaves are plucked, the stronger the dryness will be. The dryness produces an uncomfortable drinking feeling; the tea produces a coarse or sandiness sensation on the tongue.

An ideal tea should give a soft drinking feeling with a creamy texture that has a sweetness that remains in the throat and produces reasonably strong body. Based on these criteria, I must choose the Bai Mu Dan that was plucked in March.
 

How to determine the time for harvest of tea?

The easiest way to identify if the teas were plucked in the early season is to analyze the brewed leaves with fingers. Do try pinching the leaves with your fingers and feel the texture of the leaves. This is how they should be; the early-plucked leaves (spring leaves) are tender, soft and elastic due to the abundance of smaller cells. On the contrary, if the tea leaves are plucked in April or May, you may notice a rough and coarse leaves when pinching it.

withering of bai mu dan

The mao-cha of white tea

We purposely bought the mao-cha Bai Mu Dan this year. Recently, all types of white tea are baked at the end of the process where the temperature is more than a 100 degree C causing the tea to develop a savory aroma. However, the baking process also oxidizes the volatile substances diminishing the soft and delicate floral flavour of the mao-cha. In addition, most of the factories in Fuding are not equipped with a proper cooling system which is essential to prevent the condensation of water after baking of the tea leaves. The tea leaves would get wet if proper cooling is not carried out immediately after the baking process. It will then causes the oxidation of leaves.
Personally, I loved the refreshing floral note of the mao-cha that is why we decided to acquire the mao-cha without the final baking process.
withering of bai mu dan

Bai Mu Dan – Withering process

Aging develops fruity flavour

Bai Mu Dan is not only ideal to drink when it is fresh but also after it has been matured. After keeping this tea for more than a few years, it will develop a strong fruity flavour that reminds me of Muscat. If you wish to keep this tea, please preserve it in an unopened bag. The tea can be matured faster if it is kept in a warmer place. Why don’t you keep the white tea for a few years and produce your very own original vintage white tea?
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Bai Mu Dan

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