Let us now talk about the second question: What are the differences between Yunnan Moonlight White Tea and Fujian's famous white teas, namely white peony and white silver needle?
The first point we should pay attention to is that because these two kinds of tea belong to the category of white tea, and their processing methods are basically the same, we hold these two kinds of tea against each other for comparison.
Because both white peony and white silver needle comes from Fujian Province, China, the area is famous for artificially small tea leaf varieties. Many different types of tea are produced by the Chinese people in this area, such as white tea, oolong, black tea, etc. It has a history of hundreds of years of tea production, so it is well known.
Yunnan used to be a wild land in China. There were few humans, so the history of making tea is relatively short. However, Yunnan’s tea trees and other animal and plant species are relatively well-preserved, and are much-treasured.
I will briefly explain the production of white tea here. If you are interested in how each type of tea is made, which types of tea are best produced in which areas, how to identify the quality of the teas, etc., you can visit our tea school, the International Tea Academy, and check our online courses and tea books and get more information on our on-site training courses.
The traditional method of making white tea is actually very simple. After the fresh tea leaves are picked, we put them in a well-ventilated environment without direct sunlight so they can naturally lose moisture. In this way, the fresh tea leaves have a very slight natural oxidation process during the natural air-drying process.
After the tea leaves are completely dried naturally, the fluff on the buds of the tea leaves is more obvious, and it becomes silvery white, while the slightly larger leaves are dark green. This is the traditional method of making Fujian white peony tea.
For so-called white silver needle, only pure buds are picked. Because the tea buds have not yet unfolded, after the natural drying, the whole tea buds are wrapped in white fluff, looking just like the tip of a silver needle, thus earning its distinctive name.
In recent decades, Yunnan has also begun to produce white tea. Because of the unique large-leaf tea in Yunnan, even using the same procedure as Fujian white tea production, Yunnan white tea tends to be more intense. Because of the particularity of Yunnan big leaf tea, the unfolded leaves are much larger than the leaves of Fujian.
In the process of natural air-drying, the effect of the oxidation process is greater, so the white tea made from Yunnan big leaves is used. The tea leaves have a black and white color, the white coming from the fluffs visible on the unfolded leaf buds (the fluff is also richer than the Fujian small tea leaf), and the unfolded leaves are dry due to their juicy, watery reasons. During the process, the oxidation is deeper, making the larger leaves appear dark brown. Under the blend of black and white color, the white leaf buds look more like crescents.
And because most of Yunnan's altitude is very high, with the tea growing atop the mountains and closer to the sky, at night, it is easy to imagine the moonlight shining on the tea. This gives the tea a mysterious air, and the white leaf buds are more convex under the moonlight. That is part of the origins of the name Moonlight White.
My good brother Tianzhi is a third generation tea maker of Moonlight White. Regarding the source of our ancient tree moonlight white, please check the pages about ancient tea tree moonlight white tea for more information. Like Wu Si, Tianzhi is also a rare young man who is willing to stay in the dense mountain forests, silently guarding the mountains and inheriting the tea-making skills left by his ancestors.
The craftsmanship of his white tea has gone beyond the scope of ordinary white tea making methods. Relying on his deep understanding of tea, he can adjust the tea production based on the varietal he uses. During the period the local tea quality peaked, he was like a senior chef. Not only did he have good “cooking” skills, but he also grasped the proper “cooking heat” that the same ingredients should have in each season, so that with each year and season, he was able to bring out the best final product from the fresh tea leaves.
In other words, Tianzhi and Wu Si have become an indispensable duo when producing our new variety of wild moonlight white tea.
Without good raw materials, even the best technology can't make good tea. Even with the best tea materials, without a master tea maker, the tea leaves are wasted. I am very fortunate to be able to witness these two working together.
After Tianzhi receives fresh tea leaves that Wu Si had just picked from under the sun, the first step is to spread the tea evenly and let the tea breathe freely in a cool and ventilated environment. As a general rule, this step of making white tea is to allow the tea leaves to shed moisture until it is completely dry. But Tianzhi does not think this is the best way to treat Wu Si's wild tea leaves. In order to make this rare, wild tea the highest quality, in the process of turning it into white tea, slight oxidation becomes the key to this tea exerting a long-lasting fragrance.
Natural drying is not enough to bring out this wild tea’s best aroma. After a few days of experimentation, Tianzhi quickly understood this fresh wild tea. After getting the fresh leaves, Tianzhi first spread them out, and then after a few hours of natural drying, depending on the weather and quantity of leaf dehydration, Tianzhi regrouped them into mounds. In this way, after the tea leaves are piled up, the natural oxidation rate of the leaves begins to change according to changes in air and inside temperature, and the temperature of the leaves begins to change.
After a few hours, Tianzhi checks the leaves and adjusts it again. From the original mound-like accumulation to a flat push, the thickness of the pile is adjusted to accommodate differences in daytime and nighttime temperatures. After more than two weeks of adjustment, the tea gradually dries completely to form white tea, and because of this special production, this white tea not only retains the characteristics of the white fluff that traditional white tea should have, but also allows the larger Yunnan big leaves to retain the characteristics of the white peony tea of Fujian with dark green leaves; yet its aroma is more complex than ordinary white tea, and an unprecedented floral honey fragrance is tasted after drinking. The sweet taste lingers in the mouth, while the tea liquor color is gold and silver, like golden water, and is generally bright.
Tianzhi's home is located on a mountain more than 1,500 meters high. It is backed by forest, the flowers are fragrant, the air fresh, and there is no pollution. This is the best production environment for our wild moonlight white tea. Tianzhi is also one of the few young tea people I have ever seen who never sacrifices quality for “progress.” Each year, he only concentrates on two kinds of tea: Ancient Artisan Yunnan Black Tea and Yunnan Ancient Artisan Moonlight White Tea. When the night is quiet, when the worms whisper, it is the best time for him to concentrate on making tea.
When the first wave of wild tea buds sprouted quietly in the deep forests in April 2019, I was fortunate enough to witness how this wild moonlight white tea came from Wu Si to Tianzhi. These two great and humble tea artisans presented tea that is unparalleled in quality. This is where our high-quality wild moonlight white tea comes from.
Most of Wild Tea Qi tea lovers are familiar with our Ancient Artisan Moonlight White Tea that we have been working for over ten years. The source of this tea is the most important source of Yunnan ancient tea tree white tea in Yang Ta, Yunnan China.
The origin of the ancient tea tree white tea in Yang Ta is that the ancient people found the wild tea tree in the depths of the jungle with the best and sweetest taste and no bitterness. This type is most suitable for ancient black tea or white tea. The local people hundreds of years ago transplanted the tea to Yang Ta by cuttings, and today, hundreds of years later, it has become an important birthplace of the best Yunnan ancient tea tree for making white tea. The important difference between this centuries-old ancient tea tree and the wild tea tree I mentioned before is as below.
The ancient tea tree in Yang Ta is itself transplanted by cutting the wild tea tree products found in the jungle. This kind of planting method basically keeps the genes of the original wild tea tree unchanged, and the tea tree rarely grows due to changes in the environment after it grows elsewhere. Now, 99% of the small tea bush tea plantations we can see around the world use cutting techniques to ensure that the tea tree genes do not mutate.
However, the important difference between ancient tea trees and large-scale planted tea plantations is that the ancient tea trees are carefully selected from the original wild tea tree varieties. Through hundreds of years of growth, the tea tree roots have been deeply rooted in the land and can fully absorb nutrients from the soil, and most of the ancient tea trees can grow into large trees because no one has intervened in their growth over a long period of time, allowing them to grow freely. They have thus integrated into the local natural environment and established a harmony, creating a biodiverse and sustainable growth environment.
Due to the nature of cuttings, such tea trees retain the consistency of their quality and taste, providing a stable and high-quality tea source for many fans who have a special liking of Yunnan Ancient Tea Tree Artisanal Moonlight White Tea.
Here, I have to mention the most extensive large-scale tea plantation in the world. Although these tea gardens use cutting techniques to preserve the characteristics of the original tree species (but it is worth a reminder that many of the tea plantation species are not from nature, but are from human laboratories), due to the endless demand of consumers and businesses, humans have used chemical fertilizers and pesticides on such large-scale tea plantations in excess, prompting small tea bushes to surpass their original natural growth rate and to over-produce.
This unsustainable method of development not only leaves the small tea bushes unable to plant deep roots in the land, but also completely destroys the health of the soil and affects the survival of plants and animals. On such a tea plantation, you can't see anything except endless expanses of green tea bushes. There are hardly any birds, no insects, and not even any other species of tea except the one being grown.
Now that you know the uniqueness of the ancient tree tea garden, let's see what the difference is between it and the wild tea tree forest I just discovered.
I have explained the origin of this wild tea tree forest. The most important difference between these is that the Yang Ta Ancient Tea Tree for making Ancient Moonlight White Tea was transplanted to other places by cutting, while the wild ancient tea forest of Wusi's ancestors collects the seeds of wild ancient tea trees for transplantation. The seed transplantation not only retains the genetics of the original tea tree, but also retains its ability to mutate.
When the seed sprouts, it adapts to the surrounding natural environment. When the seed grows into a small tree, the tea tree will continue to adapt as the sun shines and the surrounding natural environment changes, so as to ensure that it can maximize its success in that environment.
This variability and adaptability are essential to the ecological diversity of tea trees in nature. Just as every person has their own different looks and other characteristics, so it is that in a wild ancient tea forest, every tree may look almost the same, but if you taste it carefully, you will find that their tastes are all slightly different.
If you combine the leaves of wild ancient tea trees planted with wild original tea, and in addition, a tea master uses a unique white tea making process, we can not only retain the unique characteristics of white tea, but more importantly, create a richer flavor. This is just like being in a wonderful international community full of different skin colors, different personalities, full of rich and colorful friends and cultures.
In this way, I am very proud to say that Wild Tea Qi offers two moonlight white teas now. One is made from leaves of the ancient tea tree, which is most suitable for making ancient artisan moonlight white tea. The ancient trees retain the purest quality due to their asexual transplantation. These leaves are most suitable for bringing out the pure honey flavor of Yunnan large leaf artisanal black teas and white teas. Our ancestors spent hundreds of years of hard work carefully selecting the best varieties and using cutting techniques to retain their most complete genetic characteristics.
In addition, the wild artisan moonlight white tea is the perfect example of blending humans and nature. After our ancestors carefully selected the best quality teas in the jungle, they harvested the seeds from nature and let them grow naturally.
Both teas come from the ancient trees from hundreds of years ago. Ancient Artisan Moonlight White retains the nectar of the purest Yunnan large leaf moonlight white, unchanged over the centuries, so that the taste is the same as in ancient times.
The Wild Artisan Moonlight White allows you to experience the changing taste of nature throughout its long history. The taste is richer, and it has a more diverse personality.
Here is an analogy that describes these teas well:
Our Ancient Artisan Moonlight White is a beautiful girl who has kept the ancient door closed to maintain her charm.
Meanwhile, our Wild Artisan Moonlight White is a young man who walked out of the house and walked south and north, not only retaining the unique temperament of his hometown, but also embarking on his own unique life’s journey.
Growing Tea Consciousness
The road to tea-seeking is long and hard. It is difficult to find young tea people who have a conscience, love nature, and know how to cherish nature and adhere to traditional handicrafts. It is even harder to find a quality tea source that preserves the environment of forests and ecological biodiversity. But today's Wild Artisan Moonlight White Tea makes me understand that no matter how far and difficult it is, as long as you persist, you will find people who quietly raise and demand the purest and highest quality of tea.
I hope that every tea lover can cherish the hard work put into our two moonlight white teas, and can also appreciate nature and Mother Earth. As a tea person, I never advocate that tea lovers drink a lot of tea. The amount of truly good tea that exists can never satisfy all the people on this planet. When you are fortunate enough to get our teas, please choose a Five Element Tea drinking method for the sake of health and sustainability. Don't waste a single leaf of tea, because it is a gift of Mother Earth and was produced with care by people who maintain traditional, sustainable culture.
I leave off writing this article so I can go wading through the mountains. I have strived for more than a decade to protect ecologically biodiverse environments, and to do my best to create records of those precious, wild pockets of tea left on this earth. This work never ends.
I hope that people who read this article can combine quality teas with the healthful Five Element Tea brewing method to create a healthy and sustainable lifestyle for themselves and to support the development of a sustainable tea ecosystem.
- By Shana Zhang
Photos took by teapot artisan: Zhang Jiansheng
The blog edited by Lucas Ledbetter
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