Monday, October 25, 2010

Anji Baicha

Anji Baicha (安吉白茶) is a green tea from Zhejiang province that is made with a popular white tea cultivar. It was only recently (while researching my post about Emperor Huizong) that this type of tea first made a blip on my "tea radar."

The more I researched Anji Baicha the more my curiosity was piqued. I even read many websites that claimed it has much higher amounts of L-theanine than most other types of green tea. I have yet to find any evidence for this claim, though I think it may exist in Chinese.

I finally got my first chance to try Anji Baicha at this year's Northwest Tea Festival. My friends at Silk Road Teas gave me an ounce after I helped them out in the tea tasting booths.

Silk Road's specimen is made up of beautiful jade-green leaf and bud sets. They have a clean nutty aroma.

I brewed the tea in a medium gaiwan about 1/3 full of dry leaf. My water temperature was quite low at 155° F. I was surprised by how quickly the tea infused. Less than a minute of gentle "lid-kneading" produced a very fragrant cup of yellow tea soup.

The brothy, buttery flavor of this tea is soothing and well balanced by a refreshing grassy peak. I can (and do) drink many luscious infusions.

While I sip, I wonder what (if anything) this tea has in common with the Anji Baicha that Emperor Huizong had wrote about in his tea book some 900 years ago. My new mission is to learn more about Tang and Song dynasty tea preparation. Anybody have any resources or recipes?


Gingko said...

From what I read, Song dynasty tea drinking is somewhat similar to the Matcha of Japan. I saw a post on a Chinese forum about a recent Song tea performance, but can't find it at this moment.

Tang dynasty tea sounds somewhat like the 客家擂茶 in Taiwan, with spices and nuts mixed in tea. In some sense I think the Tibetan yak butter tea and some other teas from northern China also remotely resemble Tang dynasty tea.

Anonymous said...

good Anji Baicha is very nice. Forget about grassy taste :)