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2020 Better Days Fuding Baimudan (100g)

2020 Better Days Fuding Baimudan (100g)

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Description

December 25th, 2020

This is the higher grade of baimudan from one of the vendors here in Hong Kong I've bought tea from for over eight years now. I didn't know the family even carried baimudan until very recently. As luck would have it, I visited the family when they were packing up fresh baimudan for sale. There were several kilos of baimudan laid out to be packed up, and the air was full of the scent of classic baimudan. 

I got talking to the woman I deal with, and she was surprised I drink baimudan, since I'd never expressed an interest in it. She gave me a sample bag of this standard grade (this tea is the better of the two grades the family offer). This higher grade has a higher proportion of tips, and significantly more fine hairs on the leaves.

I was speaking with a Hubei-based vendor shortly after drinking this tea, and he told me that when he visited Fuding recently, a farmer he met with said he didn't even know of white tea in the 80s and 90s. It turns out white tea from Fuding was primarily an export product, and much of this tea ended up in Hong Kong, where baimudan is quite widely consumed. Baimudan was one of the first teas I purchased for myself early in my journey. 

Hong Kong has a long history of getting China's best teas, since we were a tax-free trading port with land borders with China, from where tea (and teaware) could go to dealers all over the world. That is still the case today, and tea goes from Hong Kong to points east and west, much like in the 19th century. 

White tea production in Fujian never stopped due to overseas demand. HK has kept some historical teas alive, such as baimudan, liu an, high roast oolongs and traditional storage pu erh, because of our insatiable appetite for tea here.

This baimudan is excellent. At this price point, I wasn't expecting much (and I was even concerned that this tea might have pesticide issues and the like). Apparently Fuding is very strict about the use of agrochemicals now, so I had nothing to be worried about, as production standards in Fuding have improved massively in the last few years. 

As with the standard grade (2020 Everyday Fuding Baimudan), the dry leaf had a distinctive lemongrass-like aroma when the leaves are dropped into a warm gaiwan. I always find some lemongrass aroma in baimudan, but it was lighter in these two teas than with the more expensive grades I also carry. 

I retested this tea today by brewing it infusion by infusion: I usually prefer to use longer infusions and decant half of the liquor before refilling the gaiwan when I'm drinking white tea, but not today. In the cup, I got surprising sweetness and balanced umami and sweetness. While not as aromatically complex or intense as the fancier baimudan I stock, this is an excellent quality tea that can take 95 or 100 Celsius without any issue, and the flavor profile is much sweeter, but with a savory backbone that becomes more apparent in the later infusions. There is no bitterness to elicit from this material. This tea had a lovely calming effect, as you'd get with the higher grades I offer.

I had two or three sessions of this tea at different ratios and temperatures in a row, and my results with this tea were excellent no matter what I did with it, but I did find a long steep with 2-3g in a 150ml gaiwan to bring out much more complexity from the material. This is a very nice tea for the price point, and while I certainly do prefer the more expensive baimudan grades I carry, I would very happily drink this. At this price point, you can toss some in a mug or large teapot and not worry about it. This is a sweeter and lighter tasting baimudan than I'm used to, and has even less dominant savory notes than the 2020 Everyday Fuding Baimudan (from the same supplier and farm), but I'm still in awe of how good these teas are for the money. I think you will be too! 


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