FUDING BAI MUDAN is a bai mudan—"white peony"—style white tea from Fuding county, Fujian province, China. This lot was produced at the typical 1:2 (1 bud : 2 leaves) plucking standard and is of the classic da bai ("big white") cultivar. Rested since spring 2018, this tea is crossing into the "three years medicine" category per the old Fuding saying: "One year tea, three years medicine, seven years treasure." We make a point to avoid mysticism and unscientific health claims in our sourcing practice; still, the beginnings of age on this tea are undeniable. Next to current year bai mudan, it's fuller, stickier, layered with deep florals, and already taking on the "Chinese herbal medicine" quality of aged white tea with subtle tones of licorice and wong lo kat.
This lot comes to us from our partner Chen Zhen at San Yu (三余 "3 left") tea farm, named for the styles of white tea made here. He produces three of Fuding white tea's four grades: baihao yinzhen (silver needle), bai mudan (white peony), and shou mei (longevity eyebrow—named so for its abundant down and the purported health benefits of drinking mature leaf tea). Chen does not make gong mei white tea (with a plucking standard of 1 or no buds + 3-4 larger leaves down the shoot, harvested later in the season than yinzhen or bai mudan), as all his mature leaf becomes high quality shou mei (typically, shou mei is made with broken, leftover, or otherwise unsuitable material). The Fuding white tea grading system is based mostly on time of harvest and scarcity of product—there is only 1 bud per shoot—and has nothing to do with objective quality markers. A well-made shou mei will outdo a sloppy yinzhen.
All Chen's teas are hand-plucked from 30 year old trees and air-dried indoors for two days. The rich sugar content and endurance of high elevation tea distinguish FUDING BAI MUDAN—the leaf is stubborn through the rigors of a gongfu session, with white sugar slowly giving way to the usual honeys and hays of Fuding white tea. Flash steep hot for candied flowers and springy texture, or longer and cooler for fat mouthfeel and the usual white tea finish. This is the genuine article out of Fuding county—for an identically produced tea of the assamica varietal, da ye cultivar, try Yunnan's foil to Fujian bai mudan.
vintage — spring '18
style — bai mudan ("white peony")
cultivar — da bai
region — Fuding, Fujian, China
locale — San Yu (三余 "3 left") tea farm
elevation — 900 meters
producer — Chen Zhen
nomenclature — bai (白) "white" | mudan (牡丹) "peony"
(use freshly boiled spring water)
modern, large format [300 ml+ vessel — BOLI, large teapot]
4 grams — 200°F (93°C) — 2 minutes
traditional, small format [150 ml- vessel — gaiwan, small teapot]
7 grams — 195°F (90°C) — 10 seconds (no rinse) +10-15 seconds each additional steep