Also known as Bai Hao, steeping this delightful tea releases a wonderfully sparkly aroma with notes of tropical fruits like guava and stone fruits like peaches and apricots. Its medium bodied, copper colored liquor has exuberant flavors of orange flower water, spring honey, fresh white peaches and a buttery toast finish.
Bai Hao is extraordinary not only for its flavors, but for the way its made. Most teas rely on human manipulations to develop their flavors. These manipulations imitate the actions of tiny herbivores called green leaf hoppers (Jacobiasca formosana), which would ordinarily feast on the leaves. In nature, the bites of tea leaf hoppers trigger the plant’s defenses, provoking their flavors. Bai Hao is one of only a very few teas whose flavors are still provoked by the bugs themselves. Unlike other Oolongs which are harvest in April and May, Bai Hao is harvested in June, after the leaf hoppers have emerged from winter dormancy. The leaf hoppers feast on the tea’s sweet young leaves, puncturing them slightly. Their munching breaks down the plants’ cells in the same way rolling does, releasing various bug-repelling, flavor-filled compounds. After a weak of this, the faintly perforated, fragile leaf sets are nimbly harvested, with special care to keep them intact. The withered leaves – by now bug free ;-) – are gently rolled into loose, small spheres, then oxidized for a relatively long time, before being light fire to preserve the flavors.