Tea: Gongmei, aka Caicha, Xiaobaicha (gongmei - 贡眉, caicha - 菜茶, xiaobaicha - 小白茶)
Type: Charcoal-Bake-Finished Heirloom Fuding White Tea
Harvest: Spring 2022
Region: Taimushan, Fuding, Fujian, China
Producers: Master Zhang
Tasting Notes: Condensed Milk, Zucchini, Culinary Spices, Vanilla, Coconut Oil
Gongmei, also known as Caicha or Xiaobaicha, is an heirloom cultivar of Fuding White tea. It is from this mother varietal that the modern cultivars of Dabaihao were created. While gongmei is often used to refer to a late spring picking grade of white tea, here it refers exclusively to this becoming-harder-and-harder-to-find cultivar.
Our Gongmei comes from a patch of traditional heirloom bushes in our tea farmer Jinzhi's plot of land up on the slopes of Taimu Mountain. The leaves are smaller than their Dabaihao cousins, and there are significantly more stems in this productions, as the traditional picking happens later in the season when the spring stems grow almost as fast as the leaves. Due to the long stems, this tea almost always appears larger than it is in its dry form, overflowing any gaiwan with only 6 grams.
The dry leaves give off a lovely mix of vegetal, spice, and floral notes, reminiscent of a spice pantry in summer's heat. When hit with hot water, the laves exude a creamy fragrance mixed with the soft bouquet of violets. On the tongue, the brew is rich and thick like cream with unmistakable vanilla notes. In the first few infusions there is also a surprising coconut oil aroma that hovers about the edges of the wet leaves and the golden brews. In time, these sweet oily notes subside into a much more vegetal tea experience iconic of this heirloom white tea varietal.