For the Vol. 2 Exploration Kit, which you can purchase from Whisk Matcha Cafe, we’ve curated five light and crisp teas aimed to take you to warmer places from the comfort of your home. Imagine travelling to places where you can bask in the sun while savouring a glass of refreshing teas from other parts of the world. Check out our tea stories below if you are curious about what's in your cup.
Here's a map to give you an idea of the journey this Exploration Kit will take you. Locations are approximate and intended to serve as a visual guide only.
Bai Mu Dan (White Peony)白牡丹
Fuding, Fujian, China
Elevation: 1,140ft / 350 meters
Why is white tea not white? Because it got its name from its white downy feature. A sun withered tea with very little interference (i.e. no bruising) during tea-making, Bai Mu Dan managed to maintain its one bud and two leaves form intact, which resembled the look of a budding white peony.
Notes: Sweet, Fruity
Gongfu: 4g | 100ml | 90c | 5-10 sec
Western: 3g | 250ml | 80c | 1 min
This white tea is grown in Fuding, an area that is famous for its loamy soil and mild climate for white tea. There are really only 2 steps in processing white tea – withering and drying. Which means the tea relied heavily on the quality of the leaves, as well as our tea producer’s experience and skills in managing the process. The result is a tea that’s fruity with a hay like sweetness, delicious and far from typical.
The Story of Bai Mu Dan
White Tea is known for its medicinal properties. There is a popular saying: 1-year white tea is just tea, 3-year white tea becomes medicine, while 7-year white tea becomes treasure. Some studies have shown that aged white tea has cooling, calming and anti-inflammation properties that could be used in treating discomfort or served as prevention. Coupled with its look of white peony and wonderful taste, what not to love about Bai Mu Dan?
Bi Luo Chun碧螺春
Pu’er, Yunnan, China
Elevation: 4,260ft / 1,300 meter
These curled up tea leaves are packed with big flavor. When we first encountered this tea, we were surprised by its oozing sweetness. Similar to many green teas, it has slight astringency that rounds off with a hint of bamboo shoot.
Notes: Vegetal, Sweet
Gongfu: 5g | 100ml | 90c | Rinse-15 sec
Western: 3g |250ml | 90c | 3 min
This Bi Luo Chun is plucked during spring this year and processed by hand into tightly rolled “pearls” to preserve its aroma. Bi Luo Chun originated from Dong Ting in Su Zhou, yet we opted for this Yunnan version as we enjoyed how the big leave variety and the elevation gives a bolder flavor and a thicker texture that lasts through multiple steeps.
The Story of Bi Luo Chun
This is another tea with more than a thousand years of history and is also one of the top 10 Chinese tea. It claimed its fame very early on when it was selected as a tribute tea back in the Tang Dynasty. It was originally called Dong Ting Tea but because of its unexpected aroma, it was nicknamed as “Shocking fragrance” (嚇煞人香). That was until Emperor Kangxi (康熙帝), who enjoyed this tea during his visitation and felt it deserved a more elegant name. He drew inspiration from its unique snail like form and declared it as Bi Luo Chun (Emerald Spring Spirals).
Long Jing (Dragon Well)
Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China
Elevation: 1,470 feet / 450 meter
With more than 1,000 years of history, Long Jing is arguably the top ranked Chinese tea. With its seductive aroma, sweet yet crisp flavor, it easily won over the hearts of many, including Emperor’s.
Notes: Vegetal, Sweet
Gongfu: 3g | 100ml | 80c | 30sec
Western: 3g |250ml | 80c | 2min
This Dragon Well is picked in April this year right before the Qing Ming festival, when the leaves were tender and packed with umami. Our tea producer then skillfully pan-fried the tea to further enhanced its flavor – a sweet note followed by subtle astringency with a hint of nuts.
The Story of Long Jing
Long Jing tea has a long history, and been around for more than thousand years since the Tang Dynasty. Even the Sage of Tea, Lu Yu (陸羽 ), referenced it in his famous book “The Classic of Tea”(茶經). Its popularity peaked in the 18th century when Emperor Qian Long (乾隆) fell in love with it during his visitation to the South. The tea has captivated him in many ways – he praised the color, smell, taste and sight* of the tea through his poems and he chosen 18 Long Jing tea plants to be used as tribute tea solely.
Long Jing has since remained the top favorite for locals and became an official diplomatic gift, where it continues to spread its enchantment around the world.
*Long Jing is often enjoyed with tall glass in grandpa brewing style . This way of brewing makes it easier to adore the sight of the hypnotic tea leaves dance.
Osmanthus Tie Guan Yin
Anxi, Fujian, China
Elevation: 1,900 ft / 600 meters
Tie Guan Yin is better known in the West as Iron Goddess tea or Iron Buddha tea. Named after the Chinese Goddess of Mercy and with its lingering floral aroma, it’s not surprised why it is one of the top 10 Chinese tea.
Notes: Floral, Sweet
Gongfu: 5g | 100ml | 90c | 30sec
Western: 4g |250ml | 90c | 3min
This light roasted Tie Guan Yin from Anxi has gone through an extra traditional infusion process – freshly picked tea leaves were placed with osmanthus flowers, then wrapped up in cloth and rolled vigorously. The mixture was then baked for hours, with the dried-up flowers promptly removed afterward. This labour intensive process brought in a slight hint of osmanthus to the tea, which we found elevates the distinctive flavor of Tie Guan Yin.
The Story of Tie Guan Yin
Anxi has been a tea producing area dating back to the Tang Dynasty. The name Tie Guan Yin started off as the name for the tea variety and it seems to yield better tea. It was around the 17th century when Oolong tea processing was invented and Anxi’s Tie Guan Yin tea variety again worked exceptionally well as Oolong tea. Tea lovers couldn’t help but chase after its unique aftertaste, dubbed as Guan Yin Rhyme (觀音韻). With its wonderous taste and flavor profile, Anxi’s Tie Guan Yin claimed its rightful place as one of the four major oolong tea regions.
Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling
2nd Flush 2018
Darjeeling, West Bengal, India
Elevation: Between 2,800 feet to 5,500 feet / 850-1,650 meters
A black tea that’s been called the Champagne of Tea, Darjeeling is definitely not your classic black tea. A small leave variety from China that adapted to Darjeeling’s unique terroir and climate, the tea developed a light, spicy yet sweet flavor profile that’s very different from its Chinese tea cousins.
Notes: Spice, Sweet
Western: 3g |250ml | 85c | 2-3 min
Situated in the Northern Valley of Kurseong with two rivers flowing through the plantation, Margaret’s Hope Tea Estate’s teas enjoy the advantage of high elevation with cool and misty climate that yields delicate flavor. You may ask what FTGFOP1 stands for? It is a classification of the appearance of the tea leave. In our case, our Darjeeling is graded as Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe, grade 1. So, do expect a brisk mouthfeel with a musky spicy flavor, which often described as muscatel from this 2nd flush Darjeeling.
The Story of Darjeeling
Smuggled from China by British Botanist Robert Fortune in the 19th century, the precious tea plants were chosen to migrate to Darjeeling because it performed better than the native variety in such cold weather. It proved to be a huge success that tea gardens were established after merely 6 years of initial experimental planting.
Darjeeling is a classic example on the fascinating impacts and relations between terroir, climate and the flavor of the tea. Even from the exact same plant variety, the taste could differ drastically because of the growing conditions.