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Recent Tasting Notes
Originally published at The Nice Drinks In Life: http://thenicedrinksinlife.blogspot.com/2013/05/organic-bai-mu-dan.html
Name: Organic Bai Mu Dan
Type: White Tea
Purveyor: You, Me and Tea
Preparation: One teaspoon steeped in about eight ounces of 180-degree water for 4:30, sipped plain
Bai mudan means “white peony” in Chinese. The Chinese have other words for “peony” in addition to mudan, among them fuguihua (“flower of riches and honor”) and huawang (“king of the flowers”). We might reasonably expect, upon learning this, that if they were to name a tea after this important symbol, they would reserve it for a premium variety. And indeed they have: whereas the other main grade of Chinese white tea, bai hao yinzhen (“white hair silver needle”), is made just from leaf shoots, bai mudan is prepared from shoots with young leaves on them. Bai hao yinzhen is very popular for its lighter, gentler flavors, but bai mudan takes no back seat with its more robust flavor profile, which, because it is robust only relative to white teas, results in a delightful beverage that offers nice, light tasting notes without devolving altogether into a glorified cup of barely flavored water.
The dry leaves of this organic Bai Mu Dan from You, Me and Tea are hazel colored. They are sizeable, and really do not appear terribly withered or curled up. The leaves smell very much of citrus – sweet citrus – maybe with the slightest wisp of white table grapes. They brew into a light, gentle, sprightly beverage that shakes about playfully as the vessel gets moved around. It is not at all unlike the color of a white peach.
The aroma is sweet and malty, smooth, with clear notes of citrus and melon, along with a side of very mild tannins. The first thing noticed upon sipping it is the light body, followed immediately by the delightful citrus and the practical absence of tannins. The beverage is not brisk, but one can discern that if there were a few more tannins about, then it would indeed be brisk, and that would not be such a bad thing. After a few sips, one notices a maltiness beginning to poke its way about, sneaking up from the back of the palate. It never overpowers, but with each sip it becomes felt further and further up the mouth, until soon malt is forming an underlying context in which all of the other tasting notes, heretofore independently frolicking about, are now playing together.
Thinking about it for far longer than anyone with something useful to do ought to spend thinking about it, I have found that this organic Bai Mu Dan bears a vague resemblance to a first flush Darjeeling tea.
In fidelity to the traditions of elegance and beauty that brought this tea about and have tended to its continuing prosperity, the tea has a lovely finish that rewards those who explore it most thoroughly: florals emerge for the first time, and form a lovely scene on the palate in which, if one waits just a moment or two extra, light notes of citrus and melon pass through with a breezy flourish.
Despite being lighter and more energetic than traditional tea-time teas, which tend to be deeper, smoother, calmer, and more thoughtful, thusly lending themselves to relaxation and quiet contemplation, this Bai Mu Dan is recommended more for the afternoon than for the morning. It is caffeinated and will work just fine for a chemical wakening agent, yes. However, its personality is much better suited for someone who is already about the day. The Bai Mu Dan is playful, energetic, almost cute in its childlike get-up-and-go. To get the most out of it, one should approach it already awake, in good humor, excited at the very thought of unshouldering the burdens of the day and expending the rest of one’s energy in sweet recreation. Have an extra few minutes on the way to your kid’s baseball game after work? The Bai Mu Dan is eagerly waiting to accompany you along the way. Done with your chores and errands for the weekend and looking forward to yoga class? This BMD just wrote your name on itself, and in your favorite font at that. Come to think of it, morning sipping may work after all: if you are one of those lucky devils who continues to spring out of bed with bountiful verve every single morning, and find yourself having just finished your jog at sunrise and now preparing to tackle the preposterous challenges with which a phalanx of bosses and coworkers has schemed to bombard you before you have even traversed the office parking lot – then a little Bai Mu Dan on the way there is just what the doctor ordered.
Pick some up today, and enjoy.
I said I wasn’t going to buy any tea (outside of groupons) before I went to China, but I allowed myself to buy a hot cup of tea from the tea shop near where I get my hair cut. It doesn’t count if I don’t add anything to my stash, right? I don’t actually go there all that often, mostly because they seem to be mostly just wholesale blends and these days I dry to buy from places that blend their own tea. One thing I did discover is that they seem to carry Teas Etc.’s Fig Formosa tea, and since the smallest size Teas Etc. sells on their website is 3oz, I will be able to try it from You, Me and Tea in smaller quantity, which is great.
Anyway, I decided to get this milk oolong to go. The dry leaf smelled like your typical milky oolong, creamy and milky and sweet. I had no control over anything to do with the steeping parameters of this cup. The woman making it put some cold water in the cup before adding water from the presumably near-boiling water in her water heater, and it seemed like the timer was going for about 3 minutes.
When I first smelled the steeped tea it totally shocked me. It smelled like straight up vegetable broth, very savory, definitely not what I was expecting. Early on when the tea was still very hot I couldn’t detect any creamy aromas or flavors at all, but as it cooled they came out. In the end the tea was very much like buttered veggies and was decidedly the most un-floral green oolong I’ve ever tasted. It reminded me more of the Bi Luo Chun Green tea I had from Teavivre than any oolong I’ve had. It tasted pretty decent once I got used to it but it just took me a while to get past my initial expectations. I have no idea how much this experience had to do with the steeping parameters, so I’m not going to rate the tea, but I’m also not going to buy anymore, heh.
So far this is my favorite milk oolong tea that I have tried. I’ve sampled DAVIDsTEA, Holy Mountain, American Tea Room, The Republic of Tea and ThePuriTea milk oolongs. The leaf of this tea is quite large, even in its rolled form. The scent is of vegetables with a light spray of milk. Once steeped, the cup is very floral and I’m detecting honey notes as well. The scent lacks the buttery tones that I’ve found in other milk oolongs. There isn’t a sense of thick, rich milk, but this cup is brilliant. Even though I’m looking for creamier and richer notes, the honey sweetness mixed with the smooth floral flavors make for a very enjoyable cup. I will be sad when this is gone, but will look forward to my next milk oolongs.
I bought this tea a while ago at a tea shop near my house because I couldn’t resist: I love love love marzipan, so I had to get a sample. I’ve made it before, but not since I’ve become really into tea. I noticed just before I made it that it has papaya bits in it too, which add some natural sweetness, but I was afraid that they would make the tea fruity and that I didn’t remember it right or notice it before.
I needn’t have worried about the papaya; this tea actually does have a fruit undertone, but it says stone fruit/apricot to me more than tropical papaya. Anyway, the flavor is all robust almondy marzipan. It’s very strong, which I totally love. Yum marzipan!