The Big Heat: White tea, tall grass, meadow shade.

Newsletter Archive Jul. 29, 2022

In between the rows of bushes in a hillside organic white tea garden, two people hoe weeds. You can see more hills and some buildings in the distance behind them.
Weeding the Silver Needle white tea garden by hand.

This weekend, cool off with Baihao Yinzhen (Silver Needle) 2022 and Bai Mudan (White Peony) 2021 white teas, as well as the Yunnan “white puer” tea, Yue Guang Bai (White Moonlight) 2018 loose leaf.

We’re in the thick of Dashu, the Great Heat, the 12th solar term of the traditional Chinese Lunisolar calendar. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, you hardly need reminding. By the traditional calendar, this is the last and longest stretch of summer before autumn emerges. Let’s hope so.

It’s also a critical time when the garden teams of our white tea producer, Chen Qingwen, are out in the heat and working to beat back the vigorous summer growth of grass in their tea garden. Rather than introduce herbicide to the gardens, they carry out this manual weeding, a labor-intensive practice done to preserve the health and productivity of their tea gardens. To keep them cool during such efforts, the garden team relies on massive liters of thirst-quenching batch brewed tea – the stuff that powers working days the world over.

Wherever you are during these hot days, white tea fits the bill. According to the folk medicine of Fujian, where white tea was invented, it’s the best in class for relief from the heat. Hot or iced, flash brewed in a gaiwan or simmered over the stove, it’s an easy-drinking summertime beauty.

Close side view of three mason jars of cold brewed white tea with the leaves still inside, sitting on a stainless steel surface.
Cold brewed Silver Needle (left), Bai Mudan (center), and Yue Guang Bai (right).

To continue with our streak of cold brew trials, we gave the three featured teas in this weekend’s sale the 24 hour cold brew treatment. Once again, the cold brew gave a crystalline picture of the differences in each tea, especially the maturity of their leaves.

We found that as you taste down the stem and get into more leafy white teas, you find more minty herbal complexity, while the buds deliver a bright fragrance and gentle sweetness. Naturally, the all-bud Silver Needle displayed the latter most prominently, bringing a cascade of delicate aromas: gardenia, green apple, and (to our surprise) nutmeg. Once you get to the very leafy and very dark White Moonlight, you’re now lurking in the cool, shady corner of the meadow with deeper flavors of mint, dark amber honey, damp bark, and chenpi.

Brew a bit, stay hydrated and stay cool.

An ornate yixing clay teapot on a wooden tray holding spilled water, surrounded by cups and other teaware in the background.
Brewing in a yixing teapot with a draining tea tray.

Teaware Tips and Techniques – Aug. 13th & 20th.

Want to sharpen your brewing technique? Interested in the little things you can do to get the most out of your teaware? Want to see how you can braid your own yixing teapots?

Drop in on our Tucson teahouse on Saturdays August 13th and August 20th. Zhuping will be there to guide, demonstrate, and answer questions about the best ways to use and care for your Yixing pot and Gaiwan. Yixing pots are the focus of 8/13 and Gaiwan are the focus of August 20th. Demonstrations will start at 11 AM and end in the afternoon. No registration is required – simply come by and talk with us as you like.