Bai Mu Dan, also known as White Peony, is a white tea that is grown from the same cultivar as the Yin Zhen. Unlike other white teas which use only tea leaf buds, this style, grown in China’s Fujian Province, uses a combination of both mature leaves and buds. Another factor that makes Bai Mu Dan unique is the leaves are laid out to wither for a spell before they are baked dry, which means it is actually slightly oxidized.
When I was seeking this tea out, I had a wee bit trouble finding a vendor that I would sell me a sample. If they carried this blend at all, it was sold in larger quantities. I was able to find this tea available through Adagio.
From what I have researched, the dry leaves shoulbd be silver-green tips and forest green leaves; the better the quality, the more tips will be included. Lesser selections will have more brown leaves (from the mature leaves) that will result in a dull, more harsh brew. As you can see, the selection I have includes many more brown leaves than what is optimal (or even described online).
Despite being slightly oxidized and containing older leaves, you’ll want to brew your leaves up at about 175 degrees Fahrenheit for 2-3 minutes to avoid scorching the buds.
A good quality Bai Mu Dan’s liquor should be a yellow green, but as you can see from the inferior blend I received, it’s more golden yellow. The aroma of the steeped leaves is vegetal earthy, like sauteed spinach.
Having a medium body, it is a bit heavier than I would have anticipated for a white tea. The inclusion of the mature leaves makes it rather astringent (almost like a dry wine). The dry bite lingers in your mouth until you’ve swallowed the liquor and the vegetal flavor fades from your tongue. For as dry as this tea is, you may expect it to have more flavor, but the flavor of the tea doesn’t really come out until the finish. You may wish to steep this blend for 1-2 minutes instead, which could result in a sweeter, less astringent liquor.
This tea has been a learning experience for me, more than others. It begins to open up the possibility of unique preparation styles and usage of the Camellia Sinensis plant. But it has also taught me the importance of finding a supplier that can provide me with the quality of tea that I’m really looking for. Not all specialty tea retailers are the same, and as with all types of marketing, what you see is not necessarily what you get. Will I buy from Adagio again? Absolutely. They have some great tasting blends in their massive fandom collection (The Maverick and Dragon’s Dream, being my top two). And I fully support their sourcing techniques and push to know your tea farmers. But as I read and learn more about pure teas and what constitutes a high quality tea versus a lesser grade, I know I must be more discerning when purchasing online.