It all seems to come back to World Tea Expo, doesn’t it? Well, here’s another one. But let’s start from the beginning before the beginning – i.e. pre-Expo.
Several months ago, the follicly-blessed Jo Johnson talked about a tea from a company called Wild Tea Qi. I’d never heard of them, or their wares, but a scant glance at their website made my geek vein pulsate. The particular tea Jo pointed at was a white tea that’d been pressed somewhat like a zhuan cha, only more reminiscent of a candy bar. That is, several tiny squares segmented and attached at the hip like a Snickers. Win-win, right there.
It was dubbed, “Ancient Moonlight White Bud Bar”. Just by the title alone, I don’t need to even go into why I wanted it. Ancient tea trees: Check. White tea: Check. It had the word “bar” in it: Check. The only parts that had me worried were the name “Moonlight” and the price tag.
Yunnan whites and I have a rather interesting history. The first Silver Needle I could boil the s**t out of was from Yunnan – assamica leaves, no less. Some non-sinensis var. sinensis leaves also made for a pretty mean white tea variant. There was one white tea I was hit-or-miss with, though. The Chinese-y name for it was Yue Guang Bai, and of all the white teas I ever tried…it was like hay. Sometimes good hay, sometimes bad hay, but always hay. The name loosely translated to “Moonlight White”.
From what I read on the Wild Tea Qi profile, this was similar to that white, only from much older trees. And more artisanal; if that means anything. All said, though, I passed it up because of the price, and I didn’t feel like playing the “blogger card” to acquire it.
Then World Tea Expo happened. Wild Tea Qi had a booth, and I frequented it on my…second day? Heck, I can’t remember. It’s all a tea-drunken blur. Point being, I tried some of their aged wares, and noticed they had the Ancient Moonlight White Bud Bar on sale. I let that sink in for a day before I firmly lost out to my (lack-of) impulse control.
I bought it on my last day.
For a couple of months it stayed in the bag of new, yet-to-be-drunk teas that I had backlogged. In the interim, I moved, I wrote, I worked…and I completely forgot about it. Then the plucky-‘n-preggered Rachel Carter chimed in on The-Plus-That-Is-Google with a suggestion for our next “Tandem Tea Tasting”.
You guessed it.
At first, I didn’t commit to the tasting. My work schedule over the Summer (thus far) had been unpredictable at best. I couldn’t firmly agree to the 6PM Pacific e-meet-up time. However, when the day-of came, I was off by 5. I mad-dashed it out the door. Got home in forty-five minutes, and got to brewin’ shortly after.
Directions on the website said to use water between 180F-200F. I went the lazy route, boiled the water, and let it stand for a couple of minutes. The true challenge was chiseling a chunk off the tea bar itself. Luckily, I’d purchased a pu-erh ice-pick-pokey-thingy at Phoenix Teashop some weeks back.
Now, one would think the best way to go about cutting this up would be to merely cut one of the square pieces off. But ooooooh no. I had to stab at it like some sort of impatient monkey. Or 1990s Sharon Stone.
Proverbial mess made, I took my tablespoon of leaves, put ‘em in a Ceylon steeper cup, and brewed them “wrongfu”-style for thirty seconds…-ish.
The liquor was pale yellow like a white tea should be, and it tasted like Yue Guang Bai. The “good hay” kind. Not much in the way of nuance, though. Before the start of the tandem tasting, I was already two mini-steeps in. Rachel was the first one there, Jo followed suit, Nicole “Tea For Me Please” Martin logged in next, followed by Darlene Meyers-Perry.
And that’s when my phone decided to crap out.
During the entire chat, I was limited to texting my notes and odd idioms. The results were…um…
Over the course of that hour, the girls made it to steep three-to-five. I was on steep – oh – fourteen before the event closed off. The final verdict was – if I can put it inappropriately – that the Ancient Moonlight White Bud Bar was like an expensive date that wouldn’t put out until the third-to-fifth outing.
Not being one to Friend Zone this tea just yet, I gave it another go the following day, while writing tandem blogs about Earl Grey. This time, though, I brewed it Western-style, and lightened the water temp to that of a standard white tea – roughly 175F.
The results were MAGIC HAY!!!
Really good, like on-par-with-any-Chinese-white-tea good. It held up for a whoppin’ three steeps that way, too. Yielding strong brew after strong brew. Well done, Moonlight.
You saucy minx, you.
For Nicole’s take, go HERE.
For Jo’s take, go HERE.
For Rachel’s take, go HERE.
(I’ll be updating the other tandemer articles as their written.)