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Originally shared in our Tasting Journal Newsletter, Thursday 09/24/20
Hi there Tea Friends,
Today I am brewing up the Wu family’s wild Bai Mudan.
White tea is such an interesting world of opportunity. I am fascinated by the minimalist processing, and what that can bring to the cup. I say minimalist – not minimal – because Mr. Wu’s process is demanding, and exacting, and involves hand-built equipment, custom-fabricated fans, and careful control of light and air circulation. But this care and complexity is for the purpose of guiding the tea on a journey from fresh to “stable” while making sure the leaves lose nothing along the way.
For Mr. Wu, the ideal white tea is finished to evoke the aroma of the fresh leaves right off the bush. It is minimalist in that the process seeks not to introduce outside flavor, but rather to bring out only what the tea wants to share.
Mr. Wu has a background in engineering, and many of the fans and equipment in his workshop are ones he designed and fabricated himself
This process takes courage because there is nothing to hide behind if you make a mistake, or if the leaves are now perfect to begin with. Luckily, Mr. Wu’s family has a plot of remote high-mountain wild arbor bushes surrounded by bamboo, wildflowers and rocky slopes. These bushes were planted generations ago and then forgotten and left to themselves for years until the recent rise of white tea. The plants have learned to fend for themselves and live in harmony with the balance of insects and birds, the natural springs etc.
Da Bai tea plants growing untended on the slopes above Wuyangcun
So, what does this pristine place taste like? Let’s brew it up.
First – this Bai Mudan is a generous mix of downy silvery buds and bright green little leaves. To get the most textural nuance from buddy teas like this one, I always skip a strainer that can otherwise filter out that good bud down.
The aroma reminds me of cucumbers still on the plant on a hot sunny day and the sweet, fresh, crisp aroma they give off, bolstered by creamy undertones and a bit of honey.
The first sips are a vibrant burst of clover fields, raw honey, sweet pea fresh off the vine, and a foundational texture of soft limestone minerality. With each sip a juicy mouth watering quality begins to build up, and reverberate on the tongue.
As this tea continues steeping, I am impressed with how steady it is. Instead of shifting directions, it builds on itself, confident and solid. The honeyed sweetness becomes sweeter, floral notes keep building up the honey, while the sweet pea vegetal undertones become vibrant and alive. But mainly, this tea is about the texture: an impossible texture that manages to be crisp and creamy at the same time. The closest comparison is Shi Feng Dragonwell.
The texture and aftertaste stay soft, leaving the palate clean and refreshed after each sip. The tea reaches a high point as the aftertaste shifts to a light cooling sensation that heightens the feeling of every taste.
This tea feels so at ease with itself, so giving, and so refreshing. It brings together the texture of Silver Needle and the flavor of Shou Mei in a perfect balancing act. In true white tea minimalist fashion, the aftertaste really does evoke the feeling left on the palate after eating a tender bud, right off a tea plant.
If you aren’t acquainted with the Wu Family’s wonderful work, I highly recommend it. Here’s a coupon to make that a bit easier. This is good for 15% off on today’s Bai Mudan, or any other Wu Family tea, including the new 300g Bai Mudan cake, and the Shou Mei and Mandarin Peel Dragon Pearls, the family’s newest experiments.
use the coupon code
to save 15% on Wu Family teas
through Wednesday 09/30
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