White Peony the Prince

White tea is kind of wild western to most people, it has very special charming characters that waiting for discovery. This is the third part of Learn White Tea The Hard Way, you can also read the previous two parts in advance – Is White tea color white? and Silver Needle the Queen.

Yesterday the peony saved me from the headache, just 9g of peony, 6g of cassia twig and 6g of licorice root that cost 0.3 bucks. (Don’t use it as there is deep theory of Chinese Medicine behind it.) To me it’s an angel. Actually the peony I used is Paeonia lactiflora or named Garden Peony. There is another peony, it’s Tree Peony or named Paeonia suffruticosa. They both share the same word peony, why is that?

Peony love

There was a prince named Peony, he is the sole son of the king and big lover of wild plants. Peony always sneak out of the palace to the mountains and bring back many no-name flowers. One day he met his Ms. Right who is a daughter of tea farmer, they shared the same passion with the nature and curiosity of how the plants cure people. Sweet time flies and cut off by the call of the country. He never came back. The old King was devastated, calling his name and staring to the tree flower Peony brought back.

After receiving the bad news, the girl moved to the Taimu Mountain, continued the plants work and screened out the one for tea. One time the village was hit by the measles epidemic, she saved many people by his tea. The villagers were grateful to this White family girl thus call her Taimu Niang Niang respectively and named this gracious tea as White Peony.

Bai Mu Dan 白牡丹

There is a definition in Act GB/T 22291-2017, it clearly tell what is White Peony:

Bai Mu Dan is made with one bud along with one or two leaves that picked from varietal Big White or Water Sprite and go through Withering, Drying and Refining.

Beside the specific White tea processing craft, two points should be noticed:

  • Picking standard
  • Cultivar

Picking standard is easy to understand, what may get you lost is the cultivar used, as there are many plants share the same name.

Tea cultivar Big White

  1. Fuding Big White
  2. Fuding Big Hair
  3. Zhenghe Big White
  4. Fuan Big White
  5. Jiulong Big White
  6. Jinggu Big White

All six are meant for White Peony but the one below is another story.

Tea cultivar Water Sprite

  1. Water Sprite – Shui Xian: it’s planted mostly in three areas and all evolved to different craft
  2. Phoenix Water Sprite – Feng Huang Shui Xian

Phenix Water Sprite derives from Phoenix Mountain where has a very famous Oolong tea named Phoenix Dan Cong, this cultivar is totally different from the other one. Traditionally it’s not endorsed for White tea. However this cultivar got my interest for its exaggerated aroma, some experiments are in the progress, hopefully receive some surprises.

The traitor

Purity is the nature of White tea that derived from simplicity of the craft which contains only Withering as its core technology. This rule broke down in 1968, a new technology combined with Black tea craft was invented. In order to get stronger taste, Rolling and Fermenting these two Black tea weapons are deployed, the new technology is named as New Craft White tea or Hong Kong White tea.

Customers are godddness of inspiration

Hong Kong White tea is a story of Muse. In 1964 The Fujian Tea Company received feedback letter from Hong Kong, in this letter it pointed out the new tea should have good body, nice tip but not broken leaf, also the tea water could be yellow or bit of red, it doesn’t matter but White tea flavor is a must have.

Mr. Liu Dianqiu who was the leader of this new project, announced the success in 1968. The shortcoming is it loses the Aging character. Normally White tea has the abillity of fighting with time, as time goes by, the aroma and taste could have charming change, as well as stronger medicine effect. Now all these functions are greatly reduced.

It is not a pure White tea anymore, but who don’t like rebellion and courage, that’s one of the greatest the driving force. I improved this technology and created the tea Michelangelo.


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