Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Nannuoshan, Bai Mu Dan

Nannuoshan Description:
Bai Mu Dan is the second grade of authentic Fujian white tea. Buds and the first open leaf of the tea plant are plucked together to produce it. Yin Zhen, the first grade, is made with buds only.
Bai Mu Dan is processed as carefully as Yin Zhen, but the withering phase is longer and the leaves more oxidized.
Bai Mu Dan has a fuller body and more intense taste than Yin Zhen; it is less delicate, yet characterize by the natural, light sweetness typical of prime Fujian white tea.

Sample provided by Nannuoshan

My Review:
The second of five Nannuoshan white teas to be reviewed as part of my white tea extravaganza! Bai Mu Dan is more commonly known as White Peony. When done well, Bai Mu Dan is an excellent tea. A little more boisterous in flavor than silver needle, it is still considered a subtle sip when compared to most green and black teas.

This came as a 6 gram sample. Which is sufficient for one pot of tea or a couple gaiwan sessions.

Opening the bag, I catch sweet and slightly sour notes of fresh cut hay.

Removing 3 grams of leaf for examination, I am impressed with what I see. The leaf ranges from light green to olive, while the buds are silvery and covered in fine downy hair.

Today I put aside my gaiwan. I think I can get better control using my press with my hybrid mug method. I hear the scoffing from some of you. I will be using gaiwan parameters just the same.

So, into the press goes the leaf along with water heated to 194 F (90 C). The first steep is a quick 30 seconds.

The result is a very light yellow liquor. The tiny fuzzy hairs are seen throughout the mug. Once the tea cools for a moment the fuzz all settles to the bottom leaving an otherwise clear brew.

The wet leaf I had to sniff more than once. I wanted to make sure it was not my imagination. What I am experiencing is our side yard when I was maybe 10. Mom had peony bushes that had big red blooms. This leaf scent matches my memory as close as any I have experienced.

The wet leaf itself is now almost all green. In the mix can be seen whole buds, some attached to a single intact leaf. As in the dry leaf there are some broken pieces.

Sipping I get a light melon/cucumber taste. There is some amount of floral notes that are more in the background. The longer I sip the more I pick up on the slightly sweet hay noted in the dry leaf aroma. It is not at all bitter but is slightly drying.

This is a very good cup of tea but I'm curious to see if it can be improved upon by lengthening the steep time. The website says to use 45 seconds for the second cup. I am going to go 1 1/2 minutes.

The mug is a much darker golden color with a green tint. The flavor seems to match the first cup but far more intense. It is accompanied by a peppery spice note at the front of the sip. I catch fleeting glimpses of fruit. It seems to jump back out of range before I can fully lock in on it and identify exactly what type fruit.

What the longer steep proved to me is that it will change what you taste. Turns out I found the more subtle short steep to be more to my liking. Never be afraid to experiment with the parameters.

You can find Nannuoshan, Bai Mu Dan here.

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