Tag Archives: Fujian

White tea: Bai Mu Dan (and a digital teaspoon)

Bai Mudan

A dry, light, white chocolatey infusion.
White tea » Fujian New White Teas, ★
Also known as: 白牡丹, [King] White Peony.

Bai Mudan (Chinese: 百牡丹, English translation: White Peony) is incredibly light in weight. A typical three-gram infusion is larger than a heaped tablespoon of this tea. When measuring your teas, pay attention to the density of the loose leaf: one teaspoon of tea can weigh anything from 1 gram (large-leaf white tea) to almost 3 grams (CTC black teas).

I use a digital teaspoon to weigh exactly 3.0 grams of tea for every pot that I brew. Here’s my spoon below:

magic teaspoon
My digital teaspoon. It can weigh tea leaves (or anything else) to within 0.1 grams of accuracy!

I also check the water temperature with a thermometer.

digital thermometer
My digital tea thermometer. With this and the magic teaspoon (above), you get perfect brews every time.

The thermometer reveals two things:

  1. that water boils before 100 °C, and that water poured straight from a boiling kettle into a cold cup is only 88 °C.
  2. that once poured, hot water cools very slowly. Hot water in a glass jug without a lid cools by 0.1 °C every five seconds.

I brew each tea for three and a half minutes at the recommended temperatures: 70 °C for green teas, 75 °C for white and yellow teas, 80° C for black and oolong teas, and 90 °C for pu’er teas, fruit infusions, traditionally-scented teas and tisanes. My phone serves as a stopwatch.

This results in perfect brews every time, and allows for fair comparisons of different teas.

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Bai Mudan is actually a lower-grade pluck of Silver Needles, although many tea-drinkers prefer the taste of Bai Mudan. The former contains sticks and mature leaves, and is suited for personal consumption, whereas the latter contains the finest, furriest, fluffiest tender buds of the same bush—and is the better choice when sending a tea gift.

It tastes of white chocolate and honeydew melon. The flavours aren’t obvious, and over-brewing will bring out a dry white wine taste, which some people enjoy!

I drink all my teas plain, because I want to enjoy the subtle flavours unhindered by fruits, spices, cream or sugar. With a refined palate, you can taste all of these (fruits, spices, cream and sugar/sweetness), and more flavours, in natural, unadulterated tea. Conclusion: do not add ginger to Bai Mudan.

Bai Mudan is light and voluminous. A normal brew, just three grams, is approximately one flat melon-scoopful of tea leaves. It also tastes very dry, so don’t drink too often. Drink it in combination with Silver Needles to demonstrate the differences between finer and rougher plucks very nicely. ★★★★

White tea: White Flowery Pekoe

White Flowery Pekoe

It’s sunshine, dry white wine or burned depending on the brewing temperature.
White tea (no further subcategories), ★★★★
Also known as: 白毫银针, Silver Needle Tea.

I love white tea’s characteristic “sunshine taste”. This comes from its most simple production process: the leaves are plucked and dried in the sun, after which, the tea is ready to drink (or store). White teas are considered to have been invented first (before green, oolong, yellow, black and dark teas).

Brew White Flowery Pekoe any hotter than 80 °C and the dryness (as in ‘dry white wine’ dryness) will come out far too accentuated, which will stop you from drinking it. Ignore any advice that tells you to brew this tea hotter than 80 °C. Instead, brew it slowly in a teapot at 70 to 80 °C and enjoy its lightness without getting it ‘burned’.

Even better, use more leaf (7 grams) and quick brews (gongfu style) to delay the dryness and enjoy the sunshine taste completely uninhibited. The lightness matures into dryness with each successive brew, allowing you to enjoy the lighter flavours and still choose to stop drinking when it becomes too dry for your liking. (If you particularly like the dryness, try Bai Mudan white tea instead.)

Brew White Flowery Pekoe right and you’ll have a refreshing drink that changes with each successive brew. It’s best at the second brew, when its floral notes (of lilies and white chocolate) come out to play. Savour he sunshine taste, remember to treat it nicely and don’t burn it. ★★★★