First Harvest 2020 Anji Baicha 明前安吉白茶
March 22, 2020
Yinjiang Village, Anji, Huzhou, Zhejiang
Made by Mrs. Qian
Emperor Huizong of the Song Dynasty was a discerning connoisseur and a master of the art of tea; he was fiercely passionate about it. He was also a gifted poet, painter, writer and calligrapher. In 1107, he composed the highly respected Daguan Chalun or Treatise on Tea. It offered a rare glimpse of the tea traditions in the Song Dynasty. He described the cultivation, harvesting and processing of tea, as well as the sophisticated tea ceremony of the Song Dynasty in thorough and vivid detail.
In the book, he devoted a whole chapter to “baicha”, which was later discovered to be Anji Baicha. He described baicha as “unique amongst teas, and different from other teas. The leaves are thin and almost translucent. They grow sporadically from cliffs and cannot be domesticated by man.” The baicha that was the favourite of Emperor Huizong remained a mystery until 1982.
In 1982, in the high mountains of Anji County, the baicha tea trees were discovered and have since been widely propagated in the country.
Our Anji Baicha is from Yinjiang village of Anji County, a picturesque village surrounded by lush undulating mountains. The hills are covered with magnificent bamboo trees.
Mrs. Qian, who is in her sixties, took us to her tea garden about 800m high in the misty mountains.
Anji Baicha, contrary to its name of “white tea”, is a green tea. The tea is called “baicha” or “white tea” due to the color of the fresh leaves in early spring - they appear more white than other tea leaves and almost translucent for its lower chlorophyll and higher amino acid content. The dry leaves are some of the most beautiful and elegant leaves we have seen.
This tea always reminds us of a sunny day in early spring, the smell of fresh sprouts in the sun when everything is just starting to awaken from the long grey winter. It is lively while at the same time delicate, full of energy and potential. It has the sweetness of spring water from the mountains.