With a 5000-year-old product like tea, developments are always news. While pu-erhs have been around for centuries, white pu-erh only appeared in marketable quantities around the year 2000! Before 2000 AD, white teas of any sort were produced in such limited quantities that to even dream of experimenting with them was unheard of. Certainly, extremely small quantities of white pu-erh had been produced in the past, but these were generally scooped up by the upper class of Chinese society (government officials or tea loving high rollers in Hong Kong). This all changed with the democratization of the Chinese economy. This development saw a rise in the overall standard of living in China and with it, new interest in rare specialty teas. These rare teas, white pu-erh among them, are generally only produced for the internal market.
Making white pu-erh is something of an art - artisans hand select the buds and top leaf of the broad-leafed white tea genus. Next, the crop is piled on a table and selected leaf by leaf for perfect color and form. The tea is then fermented very mildly and hand sorted a second time. After fermentation, the tea is pressed into traditional pu-erh molds, steamed, packaged and stored. The finished cup is superb, weaving sweet layers that hint at musk, earth, damp moss, leaves after rain and subtle orchid leading to a light lingering finish.
Traditional Chinese brewing method: Break off enough tea for one cup, (About a TABLESPOON)
- 1st brew 30 sec.
- 2nd brew 40 sec.
- 3rd brew 40 sec.
- 4th brew 60 sec.
- 5th brew 90 sec.
- 6th brew 120 sec.
With each subsequent brewing, note how the character of this wonderful green pu-erh subtly shifts in terms of strength and flavor.
Bring filtered or spring water to 190°F. Add 1 tsp of tea leaves to an 8oz cup. Pour boiling water over the tea leaves and let steep 4 minutes.