Old Grove Lingtou Baiye
Lingtou Village, Chaozhou, Guangdong
We have always been intrigued by Phoenix Oolongs for their ever-changing fragrance and taste; drinking one is so dynamic it is an experience often likened to fireworks for your palate. There are many hundreds of varietals, however, a truly amazing Phoenix Oolong, crafted from old grove tea trees, remains very difficult to find. This Old Grove Lingtou Baiye is a rare tea, and exemplifies why Phoenix Oolongs maintain the reputation and wide appreciation that they do.
Within the vast category of Phoenix Oolong, Lingtou Baiye is a highly accoladed 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 classified by the China State Commerce Department as “China’s Famous Tea.”. In the 1990’s it was listed as “tea for state guests,” and was served to important foreign visitors at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. Since the 1960’s Lingtou Village in Shuangbinniang Mountain has been cultivating the Baiye varietal of Phoenix Oolong and receiving a great deal of attention for it.
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 when tea estates were given to individual tea farmers who took liberty with the naming of their teas.
Lingtou Baiye is a classic tea and maintains the traditional way of naming Phoenix Oolongs. The main characteristic of this varietal are the distinct honey notes in the body of the tea underlying a very beautiful floral fragrance that fills the nasal passages. This balance means that it is full-bodied, while still being refreshing at the same time. Good Lingtou Baiye from higher elevation villages can be aged for 10 to 20 years, and even though the floral fragrance gradually dissipates over time, the honey notes in the body of the tea are still distinct and satisfying, especially in the after taste.
This tea is incredibly delicious and smooth. Its complexity presents itself immediately, in the deep, layered fragrance of the dried leaves in a warm gaiwan. The tasting notes of this tea remind us of the bruising process the leaves went through: we find dark, purple flowers, cooked fruits, black plum, all contained in a bright, golden liquor. Old Grove oolongs last for many, many infusions. At first they are very dynamic and captivate our full attention, then eventually they level out and sustain a beautiful, consistent flavour for a surprisingly long time, supporting us in wondering about other things.
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|Steep time||10 - 60 sec|
|No. of infusions||10+