Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bai Hao

There is a great confusion on this tea, Bai Hao.
I want to put in my thoughts.
As most of you know, the leaves of Bai Hao tea are chewed on by leaf hoppers. If one has a good quality bai hao, you may look at the infused leaves and find little black marks, or even holes where the insect has chewed away at the leaf.
This does affect the taste of the tea greatly, but not how most people would think.
When the tea plant is attacked, it starts formulating compounds to combat the leaf hoppers.
Caffeine is one of the defense mechanisms of the plant; it is a bitter substance and so is not appealing to the insects. The leaf hoppers do not seem to mind the caffeine, so the plant has to produce other chemicals to ward off the invaders.
I do not know the exacts on the chemicals produced, but I believe that, as well as premature oxidation is what causes bai hao to have its unique flavor.

Now the tea.
This is a Bai Hao from Naivetea.

The dry leaf smells like it should; Honey, apricot and malt first come to mind. It is a big giveaway of the sweetness of the tea in the cup.

The tea exhibits varied flavors on the palate throughout the infusions.
There was a wheat taste to it.
A citrus flavor.
Malty grains and honey.
A nice astringency on the back of the tongue.
In the finish there was a slight mineral hint.

One thing I thought was interesting about this tea is that it switched back and forth between sweet and sour periodically.
The sweetness was at the beginning infusions.
The sourness was at the later infusions.
And the infusions after the later infusions showed more sweetness.
This tea is bold, delicate, flavorful, delightfully aromatic and very palatable.

I forgot to check my leaves of insect damage, but maybe some of you might be able to find it in the picture.
Overall this is on the upscale of bai hao teas that I have tasted.
The infused leaves really show the quality of this fine tea.
Wonderful session.



  1. I definitely have known that plants produce chemicals in response to being eaten by insects, and I know that many of the chemicals in plants that taste or smell good to humans (and that are healthy) are some of the same ones toxic to insects or even molds or other micro-organisms that attack plants.

    It's fascinating to me how this challenges the conventional notions of western agriculture, that pests need to be controlled...instead, let nature balance itself, and utilize that balance to create something new and beautiful!

  2. Alex,

    Yes I think that Bai hao is a good example of what can come out of nature running its course without human intervention!
    I appreciate your thoughts!