Saturday, January 26, 2013

A gift of Anji Bai Cha....mmmm!

If you've read any of my previous posts you know that my personal mission is FRESH TEA.  Hard to find here in North America, although thankfully not impossible thanks to places such as Tao Tea Leaf (Toronto) and Camellia Sinensis (Montreal). The flavour delivery is just so much richer, especially for green teas which seem to fade in flavour more quickly than black tea.

The tea was bought at source in China last summer by a friend and given to me the other day when we sampled the afternoon tea service at the Shangri-la Hotel on University Avenue, but that's another story.

It came in this rather lovely little box -- like an old cigarette box.  Besides the chinese characters, it says in english "Anji Daguan Tea Industry Dawushan Tea Plant with a website --

Anji Daguan Tea Industry Dawushan Tea Plantation

Water - 82C for 2 minutes
The dry leaves are distinctly shaped -- a bit like pine needles at first glance -- and are a good clue that this is Anji Bai Cha green tea.  Fairly large leaf buds all neatly and similarly straight.  There's no twist to the leaf which suggests they were simply withered and baked -- and very delicately so, with very little handling. Of course I'm guessing here, as I didn't see it being made, and have not had tea like this before.

Anji Bai Cha dry leaves

Babelcarp tells me Anji Bai Cha is made from the "An Ji cultivar, more properly called Bai Ye Yi Hao, used to make lücha and baicha, or an early spring manufactured tea made from the cultivar, literally An Ji White Tea".  "Bai" means white, and "Cha" means tea.

And good old Wikipedia tells me it's "produced in Anji County, Zhejiang Province, China and is a relatively recent tea cultivar, having been discovered in 1982. As a result of this and its short harvesting period, it is a comparatively rare tea.  Despite being called "white", it is in fact a green tea. The long, narrow leaves are yellow in colour and have a recognisable fold along the length of the leaf.”

If you click on the dry leaves photo above, you'll note that some of the leaves still show some of the whiteness that gives the cultivar its name.

Wet leaves - light aroma of the fire from baking, loads of fresh green (sweet, spring,) faint spinach, something else sweet and cooked, like carrots or something.  The liquor is lovely, pale, yellowy green.  There's very little bitterness, almost none and it has an exceptionally smooth mouth feel -- light bodied.

Anji Bai Cha wet leaves

Anji Bai Cha liquor