I’d like to say Me and Angie go way back, but Anji doesn’t even go way back as a newer discovery in the early 80’s. Along with a few other bai cha or white tea varieties, like Xue Ya, they stepped into light for their unusual characteris...
I’d like to say Me and Angie go way back, but Anji doesn’t even go way back as a newer discovery in the early 80’s. Along with a few other bai cha or white tea varieties, like Xue Ya, they stepped into light for their unusual characteristic of having albino leaves, in certain areas or at certain times of year, that later turn green. Presto-chango, this results from lower green pigments and more amino acids to add sweet or savour. Cool chameleon and elegant, it’s become one of my favourites. As a tea shop that always steps up with fine quality offerings, JING Tea’s Pre-Rain Organic Anji Bai Cha couldn’t get any better with Anji Bai Cha in high style and pure form, as pesticide free and harvested in the cooler temperatures before Qing Ming.
Bah ha ha the bai cha for the leaves are, of course, green. However, the slender needles seem a bit brighter green, like fern, with some variation in their hues rather than the more army coloured sometimes seen. Likewise, the leaves aren’t as pine needle like, appearing kind of flat, less curved in and smaller. All about the same size, the leaves’ fur adds more texture with some looser and tight whole bud and leaf sets. Their bouquet is as delicate as their sihouettes with a similar sophistication. With a twist of floral and a touch of wax or pollen to dried grass aromas, the scent has an herbal, meadowy air. It’s not strongly green or sweet but the scent has a pleasing freshness.
Upon infusion as JING Tea recommends at 70°C for three to four minutes, the colour of the leaves lightens further, rather strikingly, which brings the bai cha into sense. Making up the pale brew requires one tablespoon of leaves that they say affords fifty cups for the two ounce size but with the tablespoon at near two grams, the sessions are more likely half that.
Amidst all the details JING Tea gives on their teas, which are truly appreciated, they describe the tea’s aroma as “soft spring flowers meet gentle tropical fruits”. However, I found the scent had more likeness to a metallic tipped, vegetal than a floral, with a seed undertone and a margarine bit of oiliness. It brings to mind artichokes and pumpkin seeds, enticing in its rich subtlety like a coquettish wink. Its pale beigey green hue ushers up a similar tease, flirting with a protein richness without a strongly vegetal flavour. Its light body has a nice structure as it lingers on the palate rather than a swifter stride which seems to make it all the more satisfying despite its mild flavour. It tastes of mineral water with a tug of a protein rich vegetal, like pea, but it is ever so subtle and not so green to be almost eggy that collectively brings to mind ferns. Yet, it has enough of a brothy savour to sustain the light flavour that has a tickle of polyphenols to almost seem like carbonation. As it finishes, it’s light to medium aftertaste cascades with a leafy, seed-like echo.
Back to the kettle for another brew ha ha, the leaves fully open spawning another pale cup. The tea remains just as fragrant, yet slightly different from the first cup, a bit more honed to a sharp seed with a horseradish flourish, reminiscent of arugula but rounder at the same time. The scent leads the way into the light to medium body which is just as animated. The body is equally light but the flavour winds through the sip, not silky, with a slight dryness, but still amply engaging. The tea also tastes kind of sharper, but not bitter, while maintaining a sense of protein from an immature pea or fern shoot like flavour that extends into the light aftertaste.
A third infusion is still lively, emanating a light scent that seems nuttier, but in a corn nuts kind of way, across a subtle vegetal to be a bit like a warm oil. Despite a lighter body, the flow and feel remain inviting with a pleasantly round finish and a tickle on the tongue that also accentuates the light sprinkle of mineral flavours across the light fern and vegetable stock body.
After all, JING Tea’s Anji Bai Cha would
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