I’ve been fascinated with the Bai Ji Guan cultivar for the better part of a year now. Part of that is due to the fact that it is comparatively rare and unheralded here in the U.S. Another is the way it looks. I find those bright chartreuse leaves absolutely lovely. I also adore this cultivar’s complexity. It is usually vegetal, floral, nutty, and fruity and rewards patient, measured drinking. Compared to the Bai Ji Guan from Verdant Tea that I tried several months ago, I found this one to be fruitier, more floral, and more mellow overall.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted delicate aromas of hay, sweetgrass, roasted almond, watercress, minerals, and stone fruits. After the rinse, a floral quality reminiscent of a mixture of dandelion, chrysanthemum, and marigold emerged. I also thought I began to catch hints of burdock and mushroom. The first infusion produced a similar aroma, but I was now able to pick out a definite touch of burdock. In the mouth, I picked up on subtle mineral, burdock, watercress, roasted almond, hay, sweetgrass, and mushroom flavors underscored by hints of flowers and a touch of golden raisin. Subsequent infusions introduced more defined aromas and flavors of golden raisin, as well as longan, apricot, nectarine, lemon, mandarin orange, and Asian pear. I also caught fleeting impressions of roasted chestnut and spring honey. The later infusions were dominated by minerals, though touches of sweetgrass, hay, roasted nuts, mushroom, honey, pear, and lemon were still detectable in the background.
This was a very complex tea-it was hard for me to get a handle on at first because it was so mellow. The aroma and flavor components worked so well together that it was hard to separate them at times. Every time I began to get bogged down in the little details, however, the tea would always pull me back down to earth with its smooth body and sharply focused mineral texture. I may be overselling this one a bit due to my fascination with this particular cultivar, but I do not have much of a problem with giving it a high score. This tea has really grown on me and I expect it to continue to do so as I work toward finishing up the remaining amount.
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Chestnut, Dandelion, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Honey, Lemon, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange, Pear, Raisins