Updated: Aug 8, 2020
Oh, I love Fuding whites, and this is a special class white peony. What makes it unique is its picking time which was pre-Qing Ming. Chinese celebrate a Qing Ming (translates as pure brightness) festival around the 5th of April and teas plucked before this date is called gu yu and they are rated as the best. The reason this tea is called ‘KING’ must be that.
As they are the first leaves and buds plucked after the winter, they grow slowly, and this makes them nutrient and flavour-rich. I do not like talking without evidence. I hate myself for not taking proper notes once I was listening to a podcast by a Taiwanese professor who explained the Qing Ming tea phenomenon very curiously. What he said was, Qing Ming was celebrated, and fresh teas were sought to be drunk in the festival. The leaves do not start to grow in March throughout all of the tea growing areas in China. Therefore, with this demand from the society (and the palace), the growers moved along to warmer regions to be able to process tea pre-Qing Ming. When I get hold of that info again, I will edit this post.
Pre Qing-Ming teas are usually made into most excellent white and green teas which contain a high amount of buds. The maker of this tea argues that even if it is Bai Mudan (white peony), it is not inferior to Bai Hao Yin Zhen (silver needles). They claim that this pre-Qing Ming tea has a fuller taste. To be honest, silver needle is rarer what makes it so unique and expensive. However, the preference depends on your personal ‘taste’. Either you prefer delicate floral notes that a Yin Zhen can give you or a slightly stronger floral and mineral notes. Like I got out of this beautiful white peony.
Origin: Zhenge County, Fujian Province
Harvest time: Mid-March 2020
Leaf colour: Shades of light green with consistent white fuzz
Liquor colour: Yellow
Tea aroma: Floral
Tea taste: Mellow with mineral and floral
Steeping/brewing: Steep about 4 gr of leaves in 90°C water (yes don’t be afraid) up to one minute in gongfu style or up to three minutes in Western-style. You can steep the leaves many times (until the taste is lost). To each infusion add additional time. Experiment for a result that suits your taste.
Shelf life: Available for ageing up to 10 years or possibly longer