The reputation of this tea is so high that top quality Anji Bai Cha sells at eye-wateringly exorbitant prices. The farmers can justify these prices because the tea is so loved that it is snapped up by rich Chinese tea lovers (and show offs!). The tea is so revered that even 2nd or 3rd grade Anji Bai Cha sells at an overinflated price.
Despite the fact that we LOVE this tea, we have not bought any for over 10 years because of this extra snob value which is added to the price. But this year we spoke to our long term partner in Anji and convinced him to sell us a few kilos of the top grade Anji Bai Cha for 'friends' prices.
This tea is made from the milky, green buds and young leaves from the Bai Ye or 'White' tea varietal. The Song Dynasty Emperor Huizong was a great tea lover and proclaimed (in his 900 year old book 'Da Guan Cha Lun') that his favourite tea was from the 'White' tea varietal that sprouts pale white jade coloured leaves. In the 1980's, old tea trees matching this description were discovered in Anji County and some people believe that these were the tea trees to which the Emperor was referring.
All Anji Bai Cha should be made from plants which were propagated from these ancient mother trees.
This variety does not produce as much chlorophyll as others at low temperatures and therefore if farmers pick in very early spring (end of March) they have buds and leaves which are pale lime green and yellow. If the leaves are picked later in April or May (when the temperature is above 25 celsius), then the leaves have more chlorophyll and the flavour profile is compromised. This makes 2nd grade Anji Bai Cha.
This tea was picked on 25th March 2016 from the original Anji Plantations.
Despite being made from 'White' tea varietals, this is a Green tea as it goes through the same processing as other greens to make an unoxidised tea.
Anji Bai Cha is very rich in Theanine giving the tea a characteristic vegetal taste and calming sensation.