Bai Ya White Bud (永德白芽) is a complex pure bud white tea from Yongde County, Lincang, Yunnan Province of China. Grown in a remote area of the province, close to the border with Myanmar, it is hand harvested from local assamica trees and processed similarly to a sheng (raw) pu-erh. The plump buds produce a complex liquor with a smooth taste that is creamy and sweet with a lasting aftertaste. This particular batch was harvested on 6 March 2022.
Just as some other white teas from Yunnan Province (like our White Moonlight or our pressed Silver Needle Cakes), this tea is also sometimes classified as a pu-erh due to similar production steps and methods. In these cases we must make a decision on whether to classify as a white tea or a pu-erh. Generally we make this distinction based on the characteristics of the tea, rather than on the processing steps. Due to similar processing methods employed, and as these whites teas originate from the birthplace of pu-erh, sometimes they are referred to as white pu-erh.
This Bai Ya White Bud tea is harvested from native assamica tea plants of Yunnan Province that are locally known as Yunnan Da Ye Large Leaf (雲南大叶). These plants have larger leaves than their sinensis cousins and are largely used for pu-erh tea production in the region. For white tea, it undergoes processing that is more akin to a young Sheng Cha (生茶) Pu-erh. So it starts life as young and tender leaf buds that are carefully hand plucked so as to keep the buds intact. They are then withered, very lightly pan fried and dried in the sun. As there are still enzymes present in the tea leaves, this leads to a slight oxidation during sun drying. Therefore, this white tea is closer to a Mao Cha (毛茶), which is the loose-leaf form of young Sheng Cha Pu-erh and is the starting point for pu-erh tea.
This tea consists of neat, plump buds that are covered in small white hairs giving them a silver colour and a very attractive appearance. Compared to Silver Needle teas, especially from Fujian, these buds are larger, thicker but are less silver in colour. It produces a creamy-yellow liquor that is bright and clear. The aromas are of fresh woody and grassy hay notes. The processing results in a profile that is more complex when compared to other white teas. The liquor is smooth but flavoursome, with a creamy profile and sweet hay notes. The aftertaste is lasting and smooth with chalky, woody notes and just a touch of dryness. Overall, this is a complex but smooth white tea with a comforting impression.
We suggest brewing at 80°C for around 3 minutes. Bai Ya White Bud tea shoud be brewed multiple times depending on your taste preferences. As with all white teas, you can experiment with brewing times. Try either brewing this at a lower temperature (70°C) for 4-5 minutes or alternatively at 90°C for 60-90 seconds. Different brewing parameters produce quite different results so experimenting with the water temperature and steeping time is the best way of finding the brewing method that works best for you. This tea works well for both western and gongfu brewing style.