Review: Wan Ling Tea House Bai Mu Dan Aged White Tea

Bai Mu Dan Tea, Wan Ling Tea House, White Tea Add comments
Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The aftertaste was very aged puerh in scope and sensation. "
Geoff’s Teaview: 8.6/10
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The Wan Ling Tea House has a rather interesting set-up. On their website, they advertise that they're a collective of tea lovers from separate ends of the world. Their actual brick-'n-mortar shop is located in Shanghai, whereas their website is UK-based. The result is an operation that sources their tea from various networking contacts - from Fujian and beyond.

The tea that caught my eye instantly on their site was the aged white tea. So far, I had only tried one other aged white - a twenty-year-aged Shou Mei. I found it quite exquisite and very sheng pu-erh-like in approach. This was a 2004 Bai Mu Dan (White Peony) that was given six years to age, then it was pressed pu-erh style into a beengcha-like cake. From Wan Ling, it can be either purchased as a full-on cake-disk-thingy or sampled as a chipped-off 30g. chunk.

The visual presentation was something else. To the naked eye, there was no difference between it and a five-year-aged sheng pu-erh - old, vegetarian turd-colored leaves pressed like compost. Let's all face it, aged teas are lovely to taste, but they're not-so-easy on the eyes. Unlike a good sheng, though, the aroma differed considerably. It didn't resemble a white tea or a pu-erh on first whiff but rather a Taiwanese black tea with a slight peppery presence.

Brewing instructions were also a bit different than your average aged tea. Wan Ling recommended 7g of leaves in boiling water and a gongfu style with the first three infusions at forty-five seconds, sixty seconds, and ninety seconds respectively. I had no qualm with this approach, since I was apt to adopt a similar one but with shorter infusions. I went with their way to the letter, though - finally giving my gaiwan something else to do other than bake an oolong all day.

First infusion (forty-five seconds): The liquor colored to a pale yellow, as all white teas do, with an aroma of...water. Seriously, there was no smell to speak of. Thankfully, there was flavor - subtle but there, mildly melon-like.

Second infusion (sixty seconds): This time the color was a darker(-ish) pale yellow with a slightly earthier aroma. It's also worth noting that the leaves had finally opened up. Taste-wise, it was floral and kinda spicy - like an under-brewed first flush Darjeeling. The aftertaste was very aged pu-erh in scope and sensation.

Third infusion (ninety seconds): The color was about the same as the last infusion, but the smell was creamier and roastier - kinda nutty also (both definitions). This infusion also imparted the most flavor with a sweet-seeming forefront, an earthy middle, a honey-like top note, and a grassy taper-off. Definitely my favorite of the bunch.

This lasted another two or three infusions before diluting to almost nothing. Pretty hardy even by pu-erh standards. Can't say it lived up to some of the best shengs I've tried, though. While I liked it quite a bit, I would say it was about two years shy of total flavor domination. Given a full treatment of ten years, I don't think anything could beat this. As it stands, it's merely good. If a tea is going to be "merely" anything...good is a sound consolation.

— To purchase Wan Ling Tea House Bai Mu Dan Aged White Tea, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Geoff Geoff Reviewer
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