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2022 Nánnuò Moonlight White + Ya Bao

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Like many tea producers in the pu’er mountains, Dá É makes "moonlight white" style bai cha, or 月光白 yuè guāng bái white tea. The style typically looks like: a plucking grade of one bud + two-three leaves, the tea is set out to wither for several days, experiencing a range of oxidation between the leaves of various thicknesses. Since the leaves are withered through the night, people have given it the name Moonlight White.  The likeness of the shiny white hairs contrasted against the darker, more heavily oxidized lower leaves in the tea cake — resembling the shine of the moon against the night sky — is another hypothesis for the origin of the namesake of this style of tea. The tea liquor pours relatively darker, more oxidized compared to more delicate Fujianese var. sinensis cultivars. The longer withering + drying step necessitated by the sub-tropical Xishuangbanna climate without drying ovens allows for some of the more enzyme-rich lower leaves to oxidize more fully, adding complexity to the brew as well as versatility to how it can be brewed. Gong fu or boil it, as you would a shou mei.

Whereas last autumn, we paired the white tea harvest with the complementary autumnal byproduct that the tea trees produce: their tea blossoms, for this early spring's white tea production we decided to pair the leaves likewise with their spring byproduct: ya bao buds.  芽苞 Yá bāo buds are an auxillary growth that emerges in the late winter / early spring.  Because of the chillier weather during this time, the growth is hardier and more robust.  Indeed, these little sidebranch flushes intend to be woody stem growths if left to be, yet harvested at their tender and compact stage, these little nuggets make an excellent and unique beverage tea, hinting at tones of vanilla and sweet pine.  Mild in caffeine and flavor, yet somehow simultaneously bold and unmistakable, ya bao augments the minerality and juicy mouthfeel of this ancient garden's white tea as well as rounds out the springtime motif and chi of this harvest. Proudly serving at 31¢ / gram.

By the way, this tea was harvested from Dá É’s 石头寨 Shítou zhài Stone Village ancient arbors, the same as this year's sheng pu, red tea, and single tree productions.


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