White Peony Tea (Chinese name: Bai Mudan)
First, let’s get the most frequent confusion out of the way. There are no flowers in white peony tea. It is pure white tea. It is called “white peony” because the dried leaves resemble somewhat the petals of a white peony flower.
OK, whew! Got that out of the way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve answered that question.
White peony tea was first created in 1922 in Fujian, so it can’t really be called a traditional Chinese tea. It grown from a hybrid tea tree similar to the one that produces silver needle tea. The leaves are harvested only in Spring and when harvested are coated in a fine white down.
I personally prefer the March harvest. I think the tea plants have been storing up goodness all winter long and this goodness show up in the first Spring harvest. We grow our White Peony tea in Fuding county of Fujian province.
(As a side note, a lot of teas in Fujian are grown with pesticides. We worked hard to find a pesticide-free grower far enough away from the big farms not to be impacted by blow-over pesticides.)
White peony tea is a great tea for the tea purist as it is the least processed of all teas. We pick the bud and top two leaves. We place the harvested leaves immediately on large bamboo trays in a humidity-controlled room to wither. On sunny windy days, the trays are carried outside to dry in the sun. We wither them until 90% of the internal moisture content has evaporated.
It is common practice in the last 20 years or so to finish many white teas with a light roasting. This imparts a savory taste to the tea. I personally find this defeats the purpose of white teas. A good white tea should have a delicate fruity in flavor. This is lost when you heat dry the tea.
Also, if you are not extremely careful, after the heating process, the tea steams and restarts the oxidation process. So, at Immortalitea we opt for sun-dried only white tea.
During this final drying process some of the leaves curl up into small tubes other dry flat. There is great variety in the shape of dried white peony tea leaves making the dried tea kind of “messy” looking.
The flavor of our white peony is soft and fruity with a refreshing peach flavor. The color is light yellow. White peony tea actually benefits from aging. If you keep your white peony tea sealed and let age for a few years it develops an increasingly sweet taste that reminds me of a dessert wine.
Why not stock up on White Peony and stick a few boxes in a dark corner and forget about them? What a great surprise to rediscover them a few years from now and enjoy the rare pleasure of aged white tea!