My friend Andrew is visiting Bai Hao tea fields in Taiwan as I write this, so it’s small magic that my fiancee, when asked to choose a tea, picked out my bag of 2012 M. Xu Bai Hao (東方美人茶) that I picked up several months ago in Montreal (courtesy of the fantastic folks at Camellia Sinensis).
I’ve written about this tea before, but I have to say that this time through I felt as though I was drinking a different tea.
The first thing I noticed was the color of the dry leaves themselves. My fiancee did a good job of describing them as “multicolored”. There was bright green, dark green, tan, gold, and dark. It’s rare I’ve seen such a change in hue within one tea, perhaps only in a First Flush Darjeeling with their particular early-season processing that makes for such a nuanced flavor. I tried to capture the colors in a photo. Maybe you can see some of it for yourself.
When I poured the first infusion, I was struck by how the liquor reminded me of apple juice, right down the the small bubbles on the surface. It’s possible that first impression might have colored my later thoughts, but I don’t know.
What I do know is that the taste was a wonderful crisp sweetness with a round body to match. I have to say, this tea is aging well for what I heard was a bad harvest year. The aroma was cloying. I was reminded distinctly of a cup of apple cider as the first drops touched my tongue. After that I couldn’t shake the apple connection. The toasty, crisp cider character pervaded everything.
I guess the next time someone asks for an Apple tea, I should produce this Bai Hao.