Bai Yun is an interesting tea to say the least. This Taiwanese style oolong using Yunnan leaves is exactly the flavor hybrid its name suggests. The translation is ‘white cloud’, although the flavors are far more robust and complex than “fluffy”
I had the pleasure of trying some 2012 Bai Yun in Fengqing although the tea I am drinking now is from Norbu tea. The fresh version was brighter and sweeter with a strong but quick finish, the aroma was also more “tobacco-ed” The 2009 harvest from Norbu is smoother and has a stronger malted body. The ‘09 also has a slight bit more of a menthol undertone similar to Sun Moon Lake #18.
Compared to a tradtional Bai Hao oolong, the Bai Yun leaves are darker, implying higher roast/oxidation level. This could also be attributed to the difference in amount of leaf-hoppers munching on the leaves to potentially create more dark leaves as opposed to the processing alone.
The wet leaves are similar looking to Dian Hong, the milk chocolate/caramel complexion with some whiter tips throughout. The flavor has that sometimes impossible to describe but easy to distinguish Yunnan characteristic. It has a dry and sweet blend (similiar to the april climate in Yunnan) The tea also has that rich honeyed body with some nice lower, back of the tongue notes that I come to expect from a Bai Hao.
Of the cross-bred teas we tried in China, this tea is the one that stands out as special. The Hong Bi Luo was more of a novelty as well as the Sheng/shou blends.
Many teas have come out of blending China leaves with processing methods from other countries, this could be the start of something wonderful, more Chinese Oolongs!
A side note: As my Bai Hao pot takes on more flavors, I enjoy each tea I brew even more than the last. Although I’ve only used it 7 or 8 times, it has already developed a beautiful patina!