In a country where tea drinking dates to 2737 BC, making news isn’t an easy accomplishment. Essentially, everything’s been done before. Every leaf style, production method and scenting technique has been experimented with and perfected 1000 times over by artisans from Anhui to Zhejiang. Still, developments are possible, but to make Chinese tasters and tea-traders stand up and take notice of them, they had better be spectacular. Now, while pu-erh teas and white teas are by themselves quite ancient, (white pu-erh alone dates to the Qing Dynasty around 1796) white pu-erh is not. In fact, this notable new arrival to the tea party was first manufactured around 2001. Initially, China’s tea connoisseurs viewed its creation with skepticism and trepidation – until they tasted it. Once the playfully delicate infusion of the finely fermented silver buds began to tempt China’s tea drinking populace, skepticism vanished and the tea began to fly from shelves. In fact, during the past half dozen years or so, collecting white pu-erh has become a popular pastime with the country’s newly emerging middle class. Today, as white pu-erh, including this Xantou Mandarin White Pu-erh, steadily makes it way westward, it is finding converts everywhere it turns up. (Interestingly, white pu-ehrs have become highly sought after by German and Belgian collectors.)
White pu-erh’s comparatively short lifespan, (by contrast there are aged black pu-erhs available that are hundreds of years old), makes it a young pu-erh. As such, the qualities one would look for in an aged, black or green pu-erh, musty character, assertive earthy tones, will generally not be found to the same degree in a white. Instead, white pu-erhs typically greet the pallet with warm notes of vanilla, early spring grass and the subtle character of a lightly roasted mountain oolong.
And now for the latest development in white pu-erh – Xantou Mandarin White Pu-erh. Besides the obvious fact that the tea is packed in an orange, the care of craftsmanship used to get it in there cannot be underestimated. From the careful plucking of centuries old tea bushes, to the rolling on wide wicker baskets to the natural wood fires used to flash heat the mandarin orange peel, everything is done entirely by hand. (Note: firing the orange peel serves to kill any microorganisms that may be present.) The cup it produces is outstanding. A light yellow liquor resembling camomile tea leads to a medium body with a gentle astringent assertiveness, sweet notes of citrus, honey and vanilla and a surprisingly clean finish. One of the China’s most interesting and uniquely rare teas! (An excellent pu-erh for the first time drinker!) Make some news in your shop today.