Jasmine Wild White
This Jasmine Wild White comes to us from one of our well-respected tea foragers, Mr. Fan, also aptly known as “Hunter.”
Many years ago Mr. Fan had taken a position in the forestry department of his local government, in his hometown Zhenge, and was tasked with managing a population of wild boars that were wreaking havoc for local farmers. In 2009, while he was tracking boars in the mountains, he stumbled into an area dense with wild, abandoned tea trees. He was taken aback by the beauty of this discovery: to see so many tea trees, thriving on their own, at home in the ancient forest. And so began his path as a tea forager and producer.
For many reasons, Mr. Fan is a unique tea artisan. Firstly, he does not own any land himself, and he does not have a tea farm. He focuses on crafting tea from wild and semi-wild abandoned tea trees in the mountains, and his wealth is only his understanding of their location and their rhythms.
This tea is made from tea trees that were planted by tea farmers in the 1970’s, and then abandoned as people left the villages for coastal cities. They are of the traditional Zhenghe Dabai (Big White) 政和大白 varietal, situated within thousands of acres of old growth forest, more than 3600 feet above sea level. They grew from seeds that were washed downstream from a river that runs through the middle of the forest. In these vast, old growth forests, the wild tea trees compete with a variety of other types of trees, all seeking precious, diffused sunlight. Thus, the roots of the tea trees extend deep into the earth to draw nutrients, and they grow slowly, accumulating these rich nutrients and compounds in their leaves. We feel this richness in the tea they yield.
Mr. Fan crafts his white teas traditionally: the leaves are naturally withered and dried by sunlight, a slow and delicate process that takes between 48 and 60 hours. However simple it may sound, this method requires painstaking care and attention, along with a great deal of experience to do well.
This tea is a Semi-Wild Shou Mei from the autumn harvest combined with jasmine flowers . The fresh leaves were picked by a group of 40 elders from the village and transported down the mountains in bamboo baskets. The tea is made by the traditional Zhenghe method for white tea, following the principle of low intervention: it is withered by the sun and then air-dried for at least 14 days. This slow and natural drying allows the leaves to go through the full process of oxidation, gently transforming their astringent and grassy qualities to something warm, sweet and floral. Finally, the dried Shou Mei is combined with jasmine blossoms and compressed into small, 100g cakes.
The unique microclimate of Zhenghe County in Fujian has a wide reputation for producing the best white teas, as well as some of the most elegant and delicate jasmine flowers in China. Jasmine farms in Zhenghe grow at 1100m elevation, up in the misty mountains where the temperatures vary drastically and the soil is sandy and nutrient-scarce. These challenging conditions cause the jasmine plants to allocate more resources to survival and less to flowering. The flowers they do yield are very distinct and delicate, as well as prized.
The combination of these two, precious things produces a tea that feels woven together by flowers. Deeply embedded threads of jasmine cross with the inherently floral qualities of the sun dried shou mei. The taste is forward and palate-filling, offering a perfume that lasts long after the tea is swallowed – We taste as much of this Jasmine While White in the afterbreaths. The liquor has a refreshing density, with a subtly drying quality. We feel the elegant constriction of the alpine flowers in this, which are less sweet and round than other jasmine, but no less pretty.
. . .
|Steep time||10 - 90 sec|
|No. of infusions||10|
Cold Brew Guide
|Temperature||Room temperature filtered water
|Steep||Brew at temperature overnight, then chill in the fridge
|No. of infusions||2