Caiqing Co-op, Zhenghe, Fujian, China
2016, what a glorious year it was for White Peony in the county of Zhenghe. The crop was vibrant and the fields were awash with downy buds. This period was the beginning of white tea speculation, right before the fervent hoarding, before the pricing balloon and having seen the writing on the wall, our Chinese fixer cautioned, "Don't sell it all, keep at least two bags in storage." I knew better than to doubt his heed so with that, I scurried along and buried a coupla keys in my cold chest.
I had forgotten it until recently. After a particularly tedious morning of blending and packing, I was searching for something special that might soothe what ails me. Aha!
Like a child desperately clawing away gift-wrapping, I hacked open the bag and peered inside. A comforting breath of warm campfire enveloped my senses, the leaves while lightly tanned from age maintained an abundance of snowy buds. I picked out a greedy handful and set it inside my gai wan. First infusion, toasty with a light tang, not dissimilar to an aged sheng pu erh. Second, a sweetness begins to take place. By the third, the smokiness has given way to the sweet, sour and savoury creating the backdrop for many more infusions!
Dry leaf: a mix of still green and darker leaf and plenty of downy buds.
Taste: green grapes, bok choy, woodfire
Process: sun-withered, sun-dried, cold stored.
Storage: Keep in dry, cool, dim place.
1. Warm a 125ml gai wan with water just off the boil
2. Add 7g of tea and rinse the leaves
3. Brew using 90C water. Infusion #1 - 25 sec; #2 - 15 sec; #3 - 10 sec; #4 - 10 sec; #5+ adjust to taste