Fuding White Tea 福鼎白茶 (I’m obsessed!)

Now that I’ve gotten into a habit of drinking tea every morning, I’ve found that white teas are my favourite. Mild, floral, nutty, smooth, and sweet with hints of honey… I’ve seriously gotten addicted to drinking white tea. The ones I’ve bought and tried are all from Fuding 福鼎市 (Fúdǐngshì), in Fujian, China. There’s also White Tea from Zheng He but I haven’t tried any before.

There are different grades and quality of white tea which depends on when in the year it was picked. White hair silver needles are the highest grade (picked before Qing Ming I think and very short window for picking), followed by Peony King, White Peony, Gong Mei and Shou Mei.

According to the shop I get my tea from, it’s recommended to drink slightly older white teas. There’s a saying about white tea: “一年茶,三年药,七年宝”, translated as “1 year tea, 3 years medicine, 7 years treasure”. So they always advice me to keep my white peony & peony king teas as long as I can, because aged versions of those teas are very very expensive. For drinking now, they recommend aged Shou Mei.

For example, they sell 50g of 2020 silver needle for RM55, while 50g of 2016 silver needle is RM80. Shou Mei much cheaper at RM45 for 70g of 2016 loose leaves.

I personally have found that I prefer the taste of white peony/ peony kings that are at least 5 years old and I can drink more of it for longer periods of time (or maybe I have expensive taste…RIP my bank account). For some reason younger white teas (less than 3 years old) cause a stronger caffeine effect on me (i.e. palpitations). Younger white teas are a really pretty light/pale yellow colour, while older white teas are a warmer yellow, amber or whisky colour.

Also, an unintended side effect was loosing weight after drinking white tea every morning. Even those around me noticed the difference.

My only issue now is brewing methods for white tea. It seems that older white tea can be brewed at higher temperatures (95 to 100°C) and younger white tea are treated like green tea? So a lower temperature (75-80°C) is better so as to not burn the leaves. But I have seen conflicting info online with some saying 90-95°C is probably best for white tea.

White Hair Silver Needles 白毫银针 (Báiháo yín zhēn)

The highest grade and most expensive of all the white teas. Silver needles are all fuzzy buds and seriously look really pretty. The tea liquor (茶汤 Chá tāng) is a pale clear yellow colour and you will be able to see all the fuzzy “hairs” in the liquor. Supposedly this is good for anti-aging purposes. 🙂

silver needle white tea

Peony King 牡丹王 (Mǔdān wáng)

This is what started off the obsession. I was browsing Purple Cane’s online shop and frivolously decided to buy a box of White Peony (Peony King) because I like Peonies. It was RM48 for a box of 50g loose leaves. I have since bought a 200g (on the box it says 200g but it actually weighs around 230g) box of 2018 Peony King loose leaves for RM140 which I plan to store for a few years before drinking.

  • 4g in Gai Wan
  • 80°C
  • Rinse once
  • 30 secs first infusion

White Peony 白牡丹 (Bái mǔdān)

The key difference between Peony King and White Peony are the density of buds. Peony Kings have a lot more of those white fuzzy leaf buds and are therefore more expensive. Personally I’m ok with White Peony, they are still expensive but I’m really fond of the taste. It’s so so addictive. I have a few 2016 bai mudan 350g tea cakes (茶饼 Chá bǐng) that I’m keeping in storage for now and a 2015 bai mu dan tea cake that I’m drinking daily. I got them at a special price through an online bid (less than RM100 each), normally the 2015 tea cake alone is sold for RM188 and the 2016 ones are RM80 each I think. Again, younger = cheaper, but you have to wait a few years to drink it.

The recommended brewing method is:

  • 4 – 5g in Gai Wan
  • Younger bai mu dan 85°C, older 90-95°C
  • Rinse once
  • 30 secs first infusion
2015 White Peony Tea

Cold Dew/Han Lu 寒露白茶 (Hán lù báichá)

I managed to get 1 tea cake of this Han Lu tea to try. It was RM136 for a 350g of 2014 han lu white tea cake. I found more information about it here. I was curious as the seller mentioned han lu white tea is picked just before winter, unlike the other white teas.

The recommended brewing method is:

  • 5g in Gai Wan
  • 85°C
  • Rinse once
  • 5 secs first 3 infusions, add 10s for additional infusions

Shou Mei 寿眉 (Shòu méi)

Shou Mei is often called a lower grade white tea. It has very few buds and are mostly bigger leaves. However, if you look for aged white tea it’s often Shou Mei. Personally I don’t think it’s lower quality, just a different type of white tea and has a different taste compared to Bai Mu Dan. I just got a box of 250g Shou Mei loose leaves which I got at a special price (normally RM208 per box) that I plan to drink daily while waiting for some of my Bai Mu Dan to age.

The recommended brewing method is:

  • 5g in Gai Wan
  • 95°C
  • Rinse once
  • 10 secs first infusions, add 10s for additional infusions

I’ve left it infusing for slightly longer and it still tastes fine (no bitterness). Seller has told me that Shou Mei can also be cooked (boiled like soup) and you can add dried tangerine peel (陈皮 Chén pí) especially if you have a sore throat. To boil it, you simply boil a pot of water, add the leaves and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. The tea liquor is definitely much darker and more amber the longer you brew it.

Wild Peony 荒野牡丹 (Huāngyě mǔdān)

There’s also mudan white tea that are picked from the wild. These are very expensive only because of rarity and how hard it is for them to pick these. I only have a sample that I have yet to try.

The recommended brewing method is:

  • 5g in a 120ml Gai Wan
  • For younger white peony 90°C, for older white peony 100°C
  • Rinse once
  • 3-5 secs infusions
  • Note: Do not leave it steeping for too long as it will have a bitter taste