Old Grove Lingtou Baiye 老枞岭头白叶
Lingtou Village, Chaozhou, Guangdong
This Old Grove Lingtou Baiye is a Phoenix Oolong that I’ve truly enjoyed in recent days. We have always been intrigued by Phoenix Oolongs for their ever-changing fragrance, flavour and aroma- -drinking a Phoenix Oolong is akin to fireworks on your palate. There are many hundreds of different varietals, however, a truly amazing Phoenix Oolong, crafted from old grove tea trees, is very difficult to find.
Phoenix Oolongs comes from two mountain ranges in Chaozhou, Guangdong: Wudong Mountain and Phoenix Mountain. Most of the varietals are very terroir-specific - the finest ones originate from a small handful of villages that are located at the highest elevations. Old groves of Phoenix Oolong tea trees are rare and coveted.
The old grove tea trees, called 小乔木老丛, are very small, with visible trunks, distinctly different from the young shrubs. Unlike the majority of Phoenix Oolong teas on the market, which come from young tea shrubs that are only 10-20 years old, the tea trees of this particular Baiye are approximately 70 years old. Due to the scarcity of old grove tea trees and the small number of villages in the mountains, the finest Phoenix Oolongs are in extremely high demand, and often command high prices.
Within Phoenix Oolong, Lingtou Baiye is a highly accoladed and well known varietal. Lingtou is the name of the village where the varietal originated from, and Baiye directly translates to “white leaf.” In the 1980’s, it was regarded in the China State Commerce department as “China’s Famous Tea”. In the 1990’s it was listed as “tea for state guests”, and served to foreign state guests at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. Since the 1960’s Lingtou Village in Shuangbinniang Mountain has been cultivating the Baiye varietal of Phoenix Oolong.
The earliest classification of Phoenix Oolong were 白叶 Baiye (white leaf) or 乌叶 Wuye (dark
leaf), depending on the color of the fresh new leaves. If the new leaves are lighter in color, it is classified as Baiye; if the new leaves are darker green color, then it is classified as Wuye. The classification of Phoenix Oolong by aroma, for example, Huangzhixiang or Gardenia scent; Molixiang or Jasmine scent, appeared later. After land reforms in the 1950’s, tea trees were assigned to individual tea farmers, and many tea farmers gave unusual and secret names to their assigned trees. Most of the Baiye tea trees were replaced by the classic name Milanxiang or Honey Orchid fragrance.
The main characteristic of Lingtou Baiye is honey notes in the body of the tea and a floral fragrance. It is full-bodied while refreshing at the same time. Good Lingtou Baiye from the high elevation villages can be aged for 10 to 20 years, and even though the floral fragrance no longer remains, the honey notes in the body of the tea are still distinct, especially in the after taste.
The tea is incredibly delicious and unbelievably complex and smooth.
The dried leaves in a warm gaiwan have a deep, layered floral and fruity fragrance with a hint of citrus. The first infusion yields a buttery, well-balanced cup that is amazingly smooth and layered. The second and third infusions are soft, gentle yet with strength and power. It is refreshing and pure, yet deep with floral and fruity notes.
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|Steep time||10 - 60 sec|
|No. of infusions||10+