Wild tea buds are special in many ways. First of all, it’s love at first sight. It really doesn’t matter which varietal we’re talking about; a handful of any unopened tea buds are beautiful! Often these precious tips are covered in a thin veil of silvery, coppery or golden hairs (depending if they were processed as white, green or red tea). However, their beauty runs deep. These buds are best, most plentiful and most powerful at the very beginning of Spring when after a long, restful winter the fresh growing energy of the new season brings a new batch of youthful promise to the upcoming tea harvest.
A tea bud may appear delicate but its power is truly grandiose! From a health perspective, chinese medicine has long exalted the antioxidant properties of the tea leaf, especially the tea bud when processed as white or green tea. But the power of a tea bud becomes obvious when we examine the young buds of the 3 different wild teas I want to talk about in this article.
Each wild bud contains layers upon layers of future sets of leaves. After steeping you can peel apart these layers one by one and be marvelled by all the budding energy that goes into its creation for you’ll typically find at least 7 sets of leaves within it. When you think about it, buds like these are actually bursting with life energy and have been plucked just before they could open and become leaves. This is not mere poetry… we’re looking at a very special potency!
For the purpose of this Blog post I decided to compare 3 types of Wild Puerh Buds which Čaj Chai Barcelona Teahouse is currently offering. I think the wild puerh bud is especially fascinating because we’re talking about untapped spring energy in a very interesting non-domesticated tea varietal that comes from Yunnan… the birthplace of tea.
The 3 wild puerhs are 2016 Wild Puerh Buds White Tea, 2015 Wild Purple Puerh Buds White Tea and 2016 Wild Purple Puerh Bud Red Tea.
The 2016 Wild Puerh Buds White Tea http://cajchai.com/en/product/sun-dried-pu-erh-buds-ya-bao/ are sun-dried buds plucked from a wild Camellia Assamica Dehongensis varietal that gows in southwestern Yunnan. This white tea is truly impossible to overbrew. It doesn’t matter if you steep the leaves 2 or 20 minutes you’re going to get a slightly stronger version of the same delicious tea. Not even the color of the infusion is going to change much with a longer steeping, it is what it is… a very light, clear and transparent sweet elexir that evokes pine resin, fresh hay, aníse, leather, honeysuckle and licorice in the nose and sweet, silky morning dew on the palate!
You might be tempted to think such a light and sweet white tea would be weak but you’d be dead wrong. These buds are hearty powerful and patient, handling boiling water with no trouble, and brining forth lovely steep after steep… sure and steady.
The 2015 Wild Purple Puerh Buds White Tea http://cajchai.com/en/product/wild-purple-buds/ is very similar in production as the buds were also sun-dried and processed as a simple white tea, however the natural mutation purple varietal that grows wild along the Yunnan-Burma border is much more intense and actually evoke nice sheng puerh more than white tea.
These purple buds are nature’s way of resisting damage from unfavorably hot and humid climate as the tea leaves produce anthocyanin which reflects some of the UV rays and gives this tea many additional health properties. You’ll find the buds are actually a beautiful mix of purple, green and yellow tones. These buds brew a light ochre color infusion that is bitter/sweet. Whether you find it more bitter or more sweet depends on your brewing time and which number infusion you’re drinking.
As with any good sheng puerh, you’ll find the bitterness present in the earlier steeping, especially if you overbrew and enjoy a shift towards increasing sweetness as your tea session unfolds. I find this tea to be very sweet, with notes of camphor, green leafy vegetables, leather and bitter sweet puerh in the nose and intense cooling gan sensation with a slight velvety feel in the mouth with flavor notes such as anise, licorice and artichokes. This tea has a lot of patience, even more than the Wild Puerh Buds White Tea.
The 2016 Wild Purple Puerh Bud Red Tea http://cajchai.com/en/product/wild-purple-bud-hong-cha/ is similar to the 2015 Wild Purple Buds White Tea in raw material but processed as a fully oxidized hong cha (red tea in China, commonly referred to as black tea in the West) and plucked from wild trees in the Dehong area like the 2016 Wild Puerh Buds White Tea. This fine tea contains mostly wild early spring buds of the Camellia Assamica Dehongensis varietal but also some purple leaves.
The wild buds are tough, so they were wilted longer than usual (2 days) to soften them and release the special tannins that make this tea so surprising. This isn’t an ordinary tea by any means and brewing must be done with utmost attention because it’s quite easy to overbrew this tea due to its potency.
You’ll find the infusion simultaneously strong and gentle, sweet and pungent with floral, fruity and typical puerh camphor notes. You’ll also find aromas of sugarcane and root veggies like sweet potato in the nose and eucalyptus, citric, medicanal, sweet notes in the mouth. This tea is very bright on the palate with a tendency towards astringency if overbrewed, but you’re also rewarded with very nice huigan sensation and long-lasting lingering sweetness on the breath.
This tea has lots (perhaps infinite) patience, I don’t know if you could really “finish” it, 10… 20 steepings… you decide! If you don’t have a lot of time it would be a good idea to use half the amount of leaves you normally would use to brew this tea and you probably still won’t “finish” it because it truly is a force of nature!
I hope you find these teas as attractive, interesting, surprising and wonderful as we do! Please let us know!