NOT FROM CONCENTRATE is a yue guang bai (“moonlight white”) white tea from Gedeng shan (shan = mountain), Xishuangbanna, Yunnan province, China, pressed in spring 2022 from material harvested in spring 2020. Like our pressed black tea and huangpian sheng pu'er, this tea was hand-plucked from trees aged 150-300 years old (as measured by our producer), making this production "gushu", or "ancient tree". The trees are completely wild-growing in forests on Gedeng Shan ("high land mountain"), are several meters tall, and must be harvested using ladders. The material, plucked at a 1:3-4 (1 bud: 3-4 leaves) standard, was processed to white tea with a brief wither and sun-drying in the classic Xishuangbanna style. The key component here is sun-drying; compared to our shade-dried yue guang bai from central Yunnan, this production is fruitier, thicker, and has slightly more bite, with a certain “cooked” quality unique to sun-dried teas. This production definitely has more “umph”, owing mostly to the age of the tea trees and the heirloom cultivar (referred to generally as da ye (“big leaf”) but understood as quite different from the farmed variety used further north).
Gedeng mountain is one of the 6 "old" famous tea mountains east of the Lancang river in Xishuangbanna. Teas from Gedeng share the distinctive sweetness of Yiwu-area teas, but with a heartier backbone and high fragrance unique to its terroir. More importantly, our producer, Xiaohui Quan, only uses leaf harvested from very old tea forests on Gedeng, which contribute to this moonlight white’s silky body, persistent huigan ("lingering sweetness"), and punchy cha qi ("tea energy"; an unscientific measurement of a tea's chemical makeup and its body effect). As this tea is minimally processed in white tea fashion, you can get a glimpse of the material as it was on the trees—huge leaf and a spectrum of colors amongst the fully intact plucks.
The compression (tightness of the pressing) on this tea is middle of the road if not somewhat loose, to promote continued microbe activity in the tea and, with proper storage, help it age gracefully. Break off a hearty chunk with a tea pick (or use the whole coin) and steep small-format to work through layers of ripe peach and yellow apples with thick, raw honey body, or grandpa steep (pop 6-7 grams in a mug, top off and steep, drink about 1/3 of the tea (straining any floating leaf with your teeth), top off with hot water, and repeat) for the full experience over 5-6 steeps.
VINTAGE — SPRING '20 (pressed in spring '22)
STYLE — SUN-DRIED YUE GUANG BAI ("MOONLIGHT WHITE")