A Zhengyan Yancha from Fo Guo Cliff in Wuyi National Park
Bai Ji Guan means white comb because the color of the leaves is pale-green to greenish yellow (unlike all other yancha which are green to dark green) and the jagged leaves look like cockscombs. From a distance the tea field looks like it is full of dancing roosters with bright yellow and green combs.
You may not recognize Qilan, Rougui or other yancha cultivars on the tea field, but when you see a field of Bai Ji Guan you can easily recognize the variety and of course be amazed by the beauty of the tea leaves of Bai Ji Guan. The processed tea leaves are also highly recognizable. They are a lot lighter and brighter in color, full of white hair and distinctively jagged on the edges.
Bai Ji Guan is the least baked Yancha. Our Bai Ji Guan is medium oxidized, baked with low and slow heat. You can tell from the bright colors of the leaves, which range from yellow to green, red to purple, instead of dark green or dark brown like other Yancha.
Aroma of Bai Ji Guan
The aroma of Bai Ji Guan is creamy and fruity like from a yogurt, nutty from a dessert soup made of lotus seeds and medicinal like honeysuckle. The medicinal honeysuckle aroma as well as taste is the signature of a Zhengyan Bai Ji Guan. One might have heard of people talking about the sweetness and nuttiness of a Bai Ji Guan, but it is the medicinal aroma that makes real Zhengyan Bai Ji Guan non-duplicatable. My Bai Ji Guan producer emphasized again and again to me that Bai Ji Guan is not only sweet and nutty, it is medicinal! I totally get what he means, especially in a Gaiwan (in a Yixing teapot is a lot less medicinal).
Taste and consistency of Bai Ji Guan
I would like to start with saying that Bai Ji Guan tastes very different in a Gaiwan and in a Yixing teapot. In a Gaiwan, the tea tastes super nutty like lotus seeds, sweet (some people said sweet like sweet corns, I am not sure. I would again say, sweet like lotus seeds soup with sugar: p), bitter like from Chinese medicinal herb honeysuckle. The bittnerness does not stay long, it very quickly becomes sweetness that lingers like forever in your mouth.
In a Yixing teapot, the sweetness and fruitiness are strongly highlighted but the bitterness is reduced to almost imperceptible. It is a much smoother tea in a Yixing teapot if one does not like the medicinal bitterness of this tea. But if one would like to get a full insight about the real nature of a good Zhengyan Bai Ji Guan, I would recommend Gaiwan.
The mouthfeel of Bai Ji Guan in a Gaiwan is very soupy, like a dessert soup or almond milk. In a Yixing teapot, the consistency is much thinner (it was a surprise to me).
Our Bai Ji Guan can be brewed about 10 times and the sweetness keeps going on without end.
Appreciate the spent leaves
In the end, I would like to remind everyone that the spent leaves of Bai Ji Guan are very beautiful. They are colorful like no other Yancha. It is a joy to look at these leaves after a few infusions. To be able to appreciate the beauty of spent leaves, a Gaiwan is more practical than a Yixing teapot.