Name: Organic Bai Mu Dan
Type: White Tea
Purveyor: You, Me and Tea
Preparation: One teaspoon steeped in about eight ounces of 180-degree water for 4:30, sipped plain
Bai mudan means "white peony" in Chinese. The Chinese have other words for "peony" in addition to mudan, among them fuguihua ("flower of riches and honor") and huawang ("king of the flowers"). We might reasonably expect, upon learning this, that if they were to name a tea after this important symbol, they would reserve it for a premium variety. And indeed they have: whereas the other main grade of Chinese white tea, bai hao yinzhen ("white hair silver needle"), is made just from leaf shoots, bai mudan is prepared from shoots with young leaves on them. Bai hao yinzhen is very popular for its lighter, gentler flavors, but bai mudan takes no back seat with its more robust flavor profile, which, because it is robust only relative to white teas, results in a delightful beverage that offers nice, light tasting notes without devolving altogether into a glorified cup of barely flavored water.
The dry leaves of this organic Bai Mu Dan from You, Me and Tea are hazel colored. They are sizeable, and really do not appear terribly withered or curled up. The leaves smell very much of citrus - sweet citrus - maybe with the slightest wisp of white table grapes. They brew into a light, gentle, sprightly beverage that shakes about playfully as the vessel gets moved around. It is not at all unlike the color of a white peach.
The aroma is sweet and malty, smooth, with clear notes of citrus and melon, along with a side of very mild tannins. The first thing noticed upon sipping it is the light body, followed immediately by the delightful citrus and the practical absence of tannins. The beverage is not brisk, but one can discern that if there were a few more tannins about, then it would indeed be brisk, and that would not be such a bad thing. After a few sips, one notices a maltiness beginning to poke its way about, sneaking up from the back of the palate. It never overpowers, but with each sip it becomes felt further and further up the mouth, until soon malt is forming an underlying context in which all of the other tasting notes, heretofore independently frolicking about, are now playing together.
Thinking about it for far longer than anyone with something useful to do ought to spend thinking about it, I have found that this organic Bai Mu Dan bears a vague resemblance to a first flush Darjeeling tea.
In fidelity to the traditions of elegance and beauty that brought this tea about and have tended to its continuing prosperity, the tea has a lovely finish that rewards those who explore it most thoroughly: florals emerge for the first time, and form a lovely scene on the palate in which, if one waits just a moment or two extra, light notes of citrus and melon pass through with a breezy flourish.
Despite being lighter and more energetic than traditional tea-time teas, which tend to be deeper, smoother, calmer, and more thoughtful, thusly lending themselves to relaxation and quiet contemplation, this Bai Mu Dan is recommended more for the afternoon than for the morning. It is caffeinated and will work just fine for a chemical wakening agent, yes. However, its personality is much better suited for someone who is already about the day. The Bai Mu Dan is playful, energetic, almost cute in its childlike get-up-and-go. To get the most out of it, one should approach it already awake, in good humor, excited at the very thought of unshouldering the burdens of the day and expending the rest of one's energy in sweet recreation. Have an extra few minutes on the way to your kid's baseball game after work? The Bai Mu Dan is eagerly waiting to accompany you along the way. Done with your chores and errands for the weekend and looking forward to yoga class? This BMD just wrote your name on itself, and in your favorite font at that. Come to think of it, morning sipping may work after all: if you are one of those lucky devils who continues to spring out of bed with bountiful verve every single morning, and find yourself having just finished your jog at sunrise and now preparing to tackle the preposterous challenges with which a phalanx of bosses and coworkers has schemed to bombard you before you have even traversed the office parking lot - then a little Bai Mu Dan on the way there is just what the doctor ordered.
Pick some up today, and enjoy.