Written by our guest tea blogger gofor_cha who is a tea lover based in Scotland and focuses on sharing experiences related to tea.
Do you know there are four grades of Bai Mudan (white peony) tea?
Well, I didn’t. That’s why when tasted 4 samples of FangShouLong’s spring 2018 white tea “Spring Water” numbered premium, 1, 2, and 3, I thought they were mixtures of silver needle (aka “bud”) and white peony (aka “leaf”) but with different ratios. Because from the tasting, buds provide thickness and leaves provide floral aroma to the tea. Grade Premium, of course, has the highest content of buds, and Grade 3 contains the largest amount of leaves.
Later I realised that “Spring Water” refers to White Peony only and what I’ve tasted reflect definitions of its four grades:
- Premium: bud to leaf ratio mainly 1:1, sometimes 1:2 with the second leaf being relatively small
- Grade I: standard bud to leaf 1:2 ratio, with smaller bud and larger leaves comparing with the last grade
- Grade II: Grade I note applies with the appearance of stems
- Grade III: bud to leaf 1:2, as time goes by, smallest bud and largest leaves of all 4 grades with longer and stronger stems. This grade is very close to Shou Mei.
Overall, white peony in general has a balanced taste of bud and leaf which makes it thick in texture with great floral notes. In my opinion, Grade I has the longest lasting floral aroma and taste but this does not change that fact that my favourite is still the silver needle!
Origin: Tai Mu Shan, Fuding, Fujian
Harvest time: Spring 2018
Leave colour: Green with white fluff
Liquor colour: Light amber
Tea aroma: Balanced grain --> floral --> herbal/leaf
Tea taste: Fresh and green. Initially grain. Grade I has a floral endnote, which becomes main note for Grades I and II (more towards smells) and weakens to a herbal taste for Grade III due to its higher stem content.
Steeping/brewing: Always use 100°C water, but ensure short brews (pour out the liquid right away for first three) to avoid “cooking” the tea
Shelf life: Up to 10 years