This white tea was first produced in the Chinese Fuding and Zhenghe counties in the Fujian Province and it is the second finest white, only after Silver Needle Tea. It is also known as Bai Mu Dan or Pai Mu Tan, which basically means “white peony” in Chinese.
A good quality Bai Mu Dan (White Peony) will have a picking standard of two leaves to one bud. The longer and plumper the bud indicates it was harvested in the early part of the season. The leaves should be largely unbroken with hair being visible on the underside of the leaf, which gently unfold in your tea pot, resembling the petals of a peony blossom, hence its name.
Like other teas, this tea also comes from the tea plant camellia sinensis. It comes from two specific tea bushes called Da Bai (Large White) and Narcissus tea bush.
Grades of White Peony Tea
In China, the highest grades of Bai Mu Dan offer you leaves covered with a fine, silvery white down, a sweet taste and a light color.
High grades tend to be hard to find, but lower grades are likely to be more common, offering you a nutty and smoky flavor, as well as having a darker color when infused.
So if you happen to come across a higher grade, do not miss the opportunity to taste it.
What makes a great White Peony tea is its processing method, a careful set of steps that ensure that this tea undergoes as little oxidation as possible and is kept as natural as possible.
The tea bud and next two tea leaves are plucked in early spring, before fully opened. The leaves retain a light green-gray color due to the feathery down that covers them.
The young leaves are carefully handpicked so that they suffer minimal crushing as it is when the tissue cells break that oxidation occurs and white tea stops being white tea.
Then they are simply withered, for about 1 to 3 days in the sun, which is quite long considering that weather conditions have to be just right throughout the whole period.
After withering the tea leaves are piled for a very short period of time for minimal oxidation. This is so residual, that white tea is considered generally unoxidized.
The final stage of processing before packaging is a careful selection of the tea leaves to be bake dried, resulting in a full bodied tea with greater potency.