What's exactly a "Moonlight white / Yue Guang Bai" tea ?

Withered tea
Post Reply
User avatar
Maerskian
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Nov 15, 2019 11:41 pm

Wed Nov 20, 2019 10:51 pm

Greeting everyone

New to teaforum ( glad to see some familiar "faces" like @John_B , @mrmopu ( hopefully the same one as reddit's mr.mopar ? ) , Jay of course ( can't remember the exact username here, talking about the guy from TealifeHK ) and just starting with a long post ( or it seems to be nowadays ) .

After some time struggling with the - apparently - lack of standardization for some terms ( or "tags" some vendors throw on their descriptions casually... ) like gushu or ye sheng, these days i find myself wondering what is really moonlight white tea.

Initially only pressed cakes came to mind but there's of course a loose leaf version of it.

I don't have much experience with white tea, so far only tasted a 2013 YunnanSourcing brand fuding shoui mei mini-cake ( which i like ) and this moonlight white from Teamania i just opened a couple weeks ago ( more on this later* ) plus some loose leaf samples from YS that doesn't fit within the current context so i'll just leave 'em out .

Also as part of my personal project, just bought like a dozen ( maybe more... ) white tea cakes ( some of them sold as moonlight white / yue guang bai ) i intend to taste and compare ( if customs allow me to, time will tell ) . It was - precisely - while i was doing my tea-shopping that this moonlight concept started to feel like just another one for the list of the aforementioned "means-this-for-me" .

From what i've read - scattered - over the last 6-7 weeks moonlight white cakes can be:

- A mere visual concept where one side of the cake has light-colored/close to pale leaves while the other side has more or less uniform dark/dark-brown overall tone .
- Previous point led me to cakes that just seem to combine spring harvest leaves + late autumn's ( each on one side ).
- Also related to previous points... there's also a suggestion that these cakes could even blend white & black tea, and while the disposition should feel obvious ( white tea on one side, black the on the other side ) what i've seen on pictures doesn't seem to focus on white/black contrast and leaves are just - more or less - scattered together.
- Tea that is withered under the moonlight only ( arguably the hardest to believe ) .

And then i read about spring moonlight white cakes, summer ones ... and the general notion that such cakes are made with lower grade material, the kind you wouldn't sell as loose leaf nor think is good enough for sheng pu-erh.

After all this, the long story short of it is: was wondering if something like an overall definition for "moonlight white" do exist ( not very optimist about it anyways, but probably nice to discuss about it ) .


*As for the moonlight white cake i got from teamania , here's their description:
Moonlight White Tea or Yue Guang Bai in Chinese is made from a Yunnan white tea cultivar. The tea leaves for this tea cake are plucked from 100 - 300 Years old Jinggu arbor trees at an altitude of about 2200 meters. This tea is made with an unique processing method: The tea leaves are withered by moonlight instead of sunlight. The longer withering period causes more oxidation compared to Fuding or Zhenge white tea such as Peony white tea or Baihao Yinzhen. This gives a darker color and a deeper, more complex aroma to the tea. The flavor is smooth and fruity, with a full-bodied texture.
Harvest: Spring 2012
Pressed: 2012
Typ: Sheng
Taste: Sweet and honey-like aroma with low astrigency.
Origin: Jinggu Shan, Yunnan, China.
Preparation: Appx. 3g per tea pot, temperatur 100°C. Rinse the tea leaves bevor infusing with boiling water.
Tip: This tea is ideal to mature a few years.
And my first impressions ( take it with a rock of salt, i'm convinced this needs much more tasting ) :

The cake looks ugly. Nothing to do with all those moonlight white cakes you can see on YunnanSourcing, KingTeaMall, MoyChay, you-name-it ... , in fact the picture on teamania's website is weird ... like some really tiny picture that was resized, but anyways... what i have doesn't look like it in the slightest, more like brown-ish with plenty light yellow-ish leaves here & there, feels "dry" just by looking at it and maybe i've been spoiled by looking at too many cakes that looks beautiful just looking at the patters of those pressed leaves... but this one looks... different... the word "amateur" ( or not very skilled ) comes to mind looking at it ( based on looks alone had trouble convincing myself this was a 2012 white tea cake ) .

Took a big chunk of it . Don't have a scale... yet, plus i'm one of those few weirdos that needs big cups ( 450ml is my regular one ) and loves using plenty leaf. This is not precise by any means, but based on the 20gr pu-erh samples i've received... let's assume i use around 40grams ( maybe a little more ) each time i grab a chunk of any cake and around 400ml ( most probably slightly less ) spring water and always go for quick few-sec steeps ( as long/short as needed, with the usual time-increments ) .

Gave it a 25 sec rinse, must admit i lost count of how many cups i got out of it ( probably around 20, i tend to make a final brew boiling leaves in 900ml water for 15 minutes + then rest for 15-20 min ) , tea looked dark red and kinda smelled like YunnanSourcing's 2013 shoui mei cake... or rather... was loosely similar, only worse, less intense.

The tea itself didn't look nor feel thick/viscous ( unlike 2013 YS shou mei's ), first three cups were way too pungent... to the point my tongue went partially numb ( first time experiencing such a thing ) , after that it was easier to drink, within the same flavour profile as YS shou mei... only on the weaker and plain side of the spectrum with nothing changing until the very end.

Not exactly a nice first impression but probably yes possibly not there's room for improvement:

Teamania's moonlight cake no only looked uglier than average, when i removed the generic wrapper noticed more tea-residue around than the few cakes i've seen so far, maybe not an important detail... but the cake itself is tightly compressed ... certainly much more than YunnanSourcing's ... and waaaaay more than Farmer-Leaf's sheng, in fact... reminded me more of this shou cake i bought from Farmer-Leaf .

Also i know that Teamania's owner ( Switzerland based ) favors dry storage and we're talking about a 7 year cake that looks too dry, so maybe there's a chance it might "revive" and improve if allowed to breath for a while although this year will have to wait until spring for that ( 70% humidity average for the whole year where i live, this year is going to be higher; no freezing temperatures, snow free... couple year ago we had summer-like weather until mid-december... this year we're already at "deep-winter" temperatures in autumn ... which are around 10ºC/50ºF ... reaching "critical" single digits sometimes around 5ºC/41ºF that doesn't last long ... you could say our winter feels like canadian summer ) .

For this first tasting i used everything ( the whole chunk plus everything that was around ). Given that i quick-steeped it shouldn't be so incredibly pungent... but i'll blame myself anyways .
Tyler
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:18 pm

Thu Nov 21, 2019 7:45 pm

I think yueguangbai is a pretty well established style, but I don't really know anything about it
User avatar
pedant
Admin
Posts: 830
Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2017 4:35 am
Location: Chicago
Contact:

Thu Nov 21, 2019 8:19 pm

hi @Maerskian, welcome to the forum!

i've never heard of the two-tone white cake style (one side pale, the other side dark). interesting.

i don't know that much about white teas in general. sorry i can't be more helpful.
aet
Posts: 84
Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2018 7:56 pm
Location: Kunming ( China )

Thu Nov 21, 2019 9:27 pm

I believe that kind of feedback would be more useful in vendor's private email rather than on this forum.
Anyway, there is a standard for Moon Light white tea, yet there are few variations of grade, processing and selling ( loose / pressed ). So from looking at the product you can already estimate the grade and partially the processing. By smell you can find out the storage and of course by drinking you can determine all those factors.
Hard or soft pressed is up to the producer, not the vendor ( unless custom order ) . I suppose ( just guessing ) that hard pressed was done for Guangzhou producer ( because wet storage there so tea aging slowly and safely ) . As it happens with many wet stored teas , when they get into the drier environment, they loosing their beautiful proprieties. It's like you get back from Spain sun & sea holiday to rainy & cloudy Ireland ;-) U'll be loosing your tan very quickly.

I can't speak for photography skills of the vendor but they've got some fairly good deals. If their 2012 Mangfei Lao Shu ( despite the writing Gu Shu , I can understand that ) only for 280CNY for 357g cake is genuine MF spring material, that's the good deal! In Kunming market this kind of tea is sold for double of this price.
Sometimes I see the biz opportunity in importing back puerh tea to China;-) Some western vendors not aware of price fluctuation of certain areas and sell their teas with margin they need based on price they've purchased back then. In China the puerh tea prices are not only changing with aging but also the factor of Fame is involved. Not far from Mangfei we bought tea from some village last year, this year I can't afford it coz price gone up 3x ;-D for exactly the same tea.
Sorry for steering away from the original topic.
John_B
Posts: 68
Joined: Thu Oct 12, 2017 4:42 am
Location: Bangkok
Contact:

Thu Nov 21, 2019 11:18 pm

A friend who produces tea in Laos has described exactly what Moonlight White is before, in its most standard form, but I've lost track of that. The relevant part I remember is that only one plant type (cultivar, although depending on use of that term it isn't that) will turn silver and dark when processed that way. It would also be sweet with flavors that are characteristic for the type.

I did turn up her description of an earlier version they made, with minimal processing information in that (from Kinnari, the name of that producer and vendor):

This very special tea from Phousan mountain is produced according to a secret recipe involving time, attention, a good measure of moonlight, and a touch of black magic. The silvery tip resembling a moon sickle and the midnight darkness of the single leaf form an attractive couple combining characteristics of white and black tea: The bud yields a delicate, refreshing nectar and adds tiny sparkles to the liquor, while the leaf provides a deeper, richer aromatic body, reminiscent of light and fruity black teas like those from Darjeeling. The production process and quality heavily depends on the weather and temperatures, which is why this tea can only be produced during a short period in spring. Picking standard: Bud + 1 leaf


Per my experience the Yunnan version (which I take to be most original, but that may not be right) is sweet and often a bit fruity, including range not far off berry as typically as floral tones, which are common across other white teas and tea types in general. Per my experience the Darjeeling versions referenced as such can be exceptional but they're not necessarily similar. Her reference to this version being like Darjeeling may tie to citrus being a common ground, but I'm not sure. Just calling Darjeeling versions black teas tends to only reference second and autumn flushes and those vary enough that one broad reference to both isn't as meaningful as it might be if narrowed further.

I have two cakes of Moonlight white at home that could easily pass for shou mei; they're not silver and dark. Both were quite pleasant, just not as exciting as I'd take them to be if the flavor profile was closer to what I expected. Both are not intense, as white teas in that general range go. It's not unusual for those to express warmer sweet tones instead, especially with aging as a factor.

Tea Mania stands out as a provider of some of the most exceptional teas I've tried, and probably as the best overall value vendor I can think of, especially related to sheng. That doesn't mean that white tea is good or a good value; I've not tried it. I just shared some of their "Lucky Bee" Yiwu with a friend and tea blogger from Germany and he thought it was about as good as any sheng he's ever tried. To me sheng versions vary so much in character that would have to include a lot of match to preference as a yardstick, versus being a statement about objective quality. It's in a really favorable place in an aging cycle just now too; two years ago when I first tried it that tea was exceptional but it showed promise more than the actualized potential it's onto just now. I expect it will flatten out a bit, and maybe never be as good as it is now again, although it will pick up depth as an older tea.

All of this may or may not tie over to the Tea Mania white tea case. Teas express one character when young, a different positive character when aged appropriately (if the potential and conditions are right), and in the middle it's normal for them to go through quieter times. Some people reject that aging white teas makes any sense to them at all, and they're probably not wrong, using their own preference for aspects and style as a yardstick. The often cited standard that white teas that can age are best after seven years may or may not work, but it kind of seems to. Even then they just trade out youthful intensity for depth and different flavor character, and never approach the complexity and intensity of aged sheng, which can start out much more intense, with compounds and aspect range to swap out that white teas never have initially.
John_B
Posts: 68
Joined: Thu Oct 12, 2017 4:42 am
Location: Bangkok
Contact:

Thu Nov 21, 2019 11:28 pm

It occurred to me that I can easily pass on an example of a different in appearance Moonlight version, one of the ones that I've bought and have reviewed, from Farmerleaf:

https://www.farmer-leaf.com/collections ... -moonlight

It looks like standard shou mei, to me, but the photos there tell the story. One point William makes in that description is interesting and relevant:

Moonlight white will oxidize as it ages, just like Pu-erh tea, but quicker. The few months of storage and the pressing process have already given this tea a red character. It delivers incredibly good sweetness, considering it is summer material from relatively young gardens. The leaves are thick and were left intact during the processing, therefore, the tea is very long-brewing.


It would stand to reason that a drier stored white version isn't going to oxidize as much. It's a natural question to consider if any white can ferment in a comparable way to that of sheng but it's not one that seems to turn up any answers, based on discussion or experience. The flavor profile and related compounds are so different that it seems drawing that parallel doesn't make any sense. William also describes the flavor of the tea, which any two people probably wouldn't list in identical form, but the general character sounds right:

White tea is very forgivable to the tea brewer, this tea will, never feature much bitterness. If you brew it strong, it will just be thicker. The fragrance is woody and reminds of autumn leaves and a walk in the forest after the rain. The mouthfeel has a light texture and the tea doesn't have a strong effect on the body. This is the kind of tea you drink to relax and warm your body.

I've re-tried this tea version in the last month or so; that sounds about right, at least the flavor part. I'm naturally always kind of relaxed and I live in Bangkok, so warming my body doesn't come up as a goal, since it's always already hot out.
User avatar
Youzi
Posts: 44
Joined: Tue Sep 24, 2019 1:03 pm
Location: Shaxi, Yunnan, China

Fri Nov 22, 2019 5:46 pm

It's simply Assamica Tea / Yunnan Tea, dried in the "Moonlight" aka in the shade. ;)

The exact processing is like this: harvest the tea => lay the tea flat and thin and air dry it in the shadow => YGB

I've seen it more in loose form and on the Kunming market they usually sell it in Loose form too. Pressed is not that popular from what I saw.
User avatar
Maerskian
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Nov 15, 2019 11:41 pm

Fri Nov 22, 2019 9:31 pm

@pedant , thank you very much ;-) , and don't worry ... the fun part of the tea realm is keep learning.
aet wrote:
Thu Nov 21, 2019 9:27 pm
I believe that kind of feedback would be more useful in vendor's private email rather than on this forum.
Sorry i didn't express it properly ( based on the reaction ) but talking about that particular cake is no criticism towards the vendor but the cake itself.

To make it crystal clear:

Peter ( Teamania's owner ) is nothing but a very helpful & communicative person and also bought two sheng cakes there ( Yiwu Lucky Bee 2016 & JIngmai Arbor 2018 ) i'm very happy with.

There's many tea online shops and happy with most of 'em, but the wider you stock the higher the probability some tea that isn't that great slips into it.

That said, i'm still not 100% sure if this is the case, this was just a first impression ( within context on top of it ) and already made a point about taking it with a rock ( not grain ) of salt for a reason.

Back to Teamania's cake, today i took a couple pictures ( sorry for the low quality: 1) it's a really old budget camera , 2) i'm one of the worst photographers in the world ) :

Image
Image

Pics taken with no flash, just natural light. Looks greener than it really is, but not nearly as brown-ish as it was when it arrived. Humidity levels where i live are really high over the last weeks and we have no AC ( can't stand that kind of air ) so despite temperatures being low ( 10ºC/50F ) looks like the cake is already changing.

Then again, it doesn't look ( visually ) like the Moonlight cakes i've seen so far .

Back on subject with this particular cake & Teamania ( well... not this particular vendor, but most of 'em ) :

From what i've seen while checking online tea shops ( western-faced ) is that plenty stores are focused on pu-erh and/or loose leaf to a higher/lower degree.... and moonlight white cakes feels like some kind of compromise, something they just like to put there but usually it's just "the one" ( Teamania has just one, KingTeaMall has one, MoyChay has one, white2tea ... funny enough has just one... same with other shops... with the exception of YunnanSourcing that seems to have the widest range of them all ), something i've also started wondering about although another user suggested a possible explanation for that.
Hard or soft pressed is up to the producer, not the vendor ( unless custom order ) .
Mentioned it on this particular TM case because it is their own brand and they travel all the way to China and have a certain degree of control over the process including the pressing. On pu-erh cakes they tend to mention who pressed it or where, not on this white tea cake... which looks different ( visually worse ) than the two sheng cakes i also have.
I suppose ( just guessing ) that hard pressed was done for Guangzhou producer ( because wet storage there so tea aging slowly and safely ) . As it happens with many wet stored teas , when they get into the drier environment, they loosing their beautiful proprieties.
Once again... i don't know all the details, but from what i gather Peter goes straight to the source ( China, Japan, Taiwan ... ) and then he comes back with tea he list for sale, so i'm assuming he comes back with freshly pressed cakes he dry-store in Switzerland.
It's like you get back from Spain sun & sea holiday to rainy & cloudy Ireland ;-) U'll be loosing your tan very quickly.
Fun example :) ( I actually live there, got the sea but - fortunately for me - not the most sunny part ) .
I can't speak for photography skills of the vendor but they've got some fairly good deals. If their 2012 Mangfei Lao Shu ( despite the writing Gu Shu , I can understand that ) only for 280CNY for 357g cake is genuine MF spring material, that's the good deal! In Kunming market this kind of tea is sold for double of this price.
Sometimes I see the biz opportunity in importing back puerh tea to China;-) Some western vendors not aware of price fluctuation of certain areas and sell their teas with margin they need based on price they've purchased back then.
They do :) ... and it's not just one or two cakes , plus i get free shipping ( spending +90€ there is incredibly easy ), hard to find a better place within Europe helping skip the increasingly aggressive EU customs. Will talk a little bit more about it ( the positive side of Teamania, which is the dominant one; i guess talking about the one weird cake and coming from some new user made me look like the usual one&done angry poster... which i am not ) when answering to John_B who in turn... was the one that helped me find this wonderful shop.
In China the puerh tea prices are not only changing with aging but also the factor of Fame is involved. Not far from Mangfei we bought tea from some village last year, this year I can't afford it coz price gone up 3x ;-D for exactly the same tea.
I'm fairly new to tea ( started on january 2017 ) and still on my early baby steps with pu-erh ( tasted my first cakes around June-July this year ) but have spent the last 6-7 months reading about it, checking stores, comparing cakes, learning about pu-erh factories, famous regions, the pu-erh bubble, etc, etc, etc... and indeed i get exactly that impression: from the infamous Ban Zhang cakes that weren't that much around 2005-2006 to becoming "the elite", to some others like Jingmai or Nannuo i keep noticing some rising trend around, also Bulang seems to have some fanbase ... didn't pick up the Manfei rising trend, so thanks for the tip ;-) .

Sorry for steering away from the original topic.
Oh... no need to. Isn't this the interesting part about a tea forum ? after all we're talking tea :) .
User avatar
Maerskian
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Nov 15, 2019 11:41 pm

Fri Nov 22, 2019 11:07 pm

Pleasure to talk again with you
John_B wrote:
Thu Nov 21, 2019 11:18 pm
Tea Mania stands out as a provider of some of the most exceptional teas I've tried, and probably as the best overall value vendor I can think of, especially related to sheng. That doesn't mean that white tea is good or a good value;
Couldn't feel more thankful about the day you pointed me to it in fact.

Full context: we've crossed each other in reddit ( have the same username there ); back then i wanted to buy some sheng cakes from Farmer-Leaf ( Spring 2018 Jingmai's: Miyun, Tian Xiang & Gushu ) and ( probably not with this same words ) you warned me about FL's price tags for teas and then put TeaMania's Yiwu Lucky Bee as an example of a reasonably priced sheng that belonged to the same category as those other FL's cakes i ended up buying.

Matter of fact - and just to keep it short - must say you were absolutely right, Teamania's 2018 Jingmai Arbor - while different - is exactly within the same range of the aforementioned FL's cakes, even recognized what seems to be the particular Jingmai smell & taste and love it .

FL's cake might look prettier ( they kinda do ), wrappers looks better, their compression isn't as tight as Teamania's ( the former i can almost grab it with my bare hands, the latter i need some tool ) ... but i'm a pragmatic person and only care about tea in the end, and that's where Teamania won me.

Also must double up on this feeling ( thank you! ) because EU customs are getting more & more aggressive, there's an EU directive in the works to be applied soon ( can't remember now if that will be next year or the one after ) to build a tax wall ... where the most worrying part is not paying taxes but the incredibly unefficient bureaucracy involved ( the real wall ) . Not sure how this situation will develop over time but so far... out of my 9 YS tea-orders from past october 2 already have been trapped with no news of the other 7.

Have my other family branch in Germany ( i was born & raised there, moved to Spain later ) which i can use to re-direct my tea orders but apparently the situation with packages coming ( specially ) from China has worsened a lot since 3 months ago and seems like it will only get worse ( despite the fact that pre-christmas/christmas is the worst point of the year to buy stuff from outside the EU ) .

With all these ongoing factors in mind... Teamania right now will most likely be my beacon of hope for the near future, so indirectly you saved me there . Thanks again.

Back on topic:
A friend who produces tea in Laos has described exactly what Moonlight White is before, in its most standard form, but I've lost track of that. The relevant part I remember is that only one plant type (cultivar, although depending on use of that term it isn't that) will turn silver and dark when processed that way. It would also be sweet with flavors that are characteristic for the type.
Thanks for sharing this information. It seems the list keeps growing because from all the different versions i've read so far this is the first mentioning the use of a particular type changing colors while being processed.
I did turn up her description of an earlier version they made, with minimal processing information in that (from Kinnari, the name of that producer and vendor):

This very special tea from Phousan mountain is produced according to a secret recipe involving time, attention, a good measure of moonlight, and a touch of black magic. The silvery tip resembling a moon sickle and the midnight darkness of the single leaf form an attractive couple combining characteristics of white and black tea: The bud yields a delicate, refreshing nectar and adds tiny sparkles to the liquor, while the leaf provides a deeper, richer aromatic body, reminiscent of light and fruity black teas like those from Darjeeling. The production process and quality heavily depends on the weather and temperatures, which is why this tea can only be produced during a short period in spring. Picking standard: Bud + 1 leaf
Interesting. The notion of white/black tea blended ( i know, not exactly "black tea" but the "feeling of..." ) is whispered here .
Per my experience the Yunnan version (which I take to be most original, but that may not be right) is sweet and often a bit fruity, including range not far off berry as typically as floral tones, which are common across other white teas and tea types in general. Per my experience the Darjeeling versions referenced as such can be exceptional but they're not necessarily similar. Her reference to this version being like Darjeeling may tie to citrus being a common ground, but I'm not sure. Just calling Darjeeling versions black teas tends to only reference second and autumn flushes and those vary enough that one broad reference to both isn't as meaningful as it might be if narrowed further.
I'd like to say i have some references from Darjeelings secon flush, but the ones i bought through Vahdam's a couple years ago were probably a poor representation of those from what i've been told .
I have two cakes of Moonlight white at home that could easily pass for shou mei; they're not silver and dark. Both were quite pleasant, just not as exciting as I'd take them to be if the flavor profile was closer to what I expected. Both are not intense, as white teas in that general range go. It's not unusual for those to express warmer sweet tones instead, especially with aging as a factor.
I'm guessing you're talking about FarmerLeaf's & MoyChay's you reviewed here ?

Also thought that material for Moonlight cakes were only collected in Spring... then noticed there was autumn versions... then even read about a blend of both to recreate the visual effect on each side... but then William picked the middle ( summer ) option for the particular cake you reviewed... also wonder if that's something you can taste compared to spring moonlight cakes ( like this year's FarmerLeaf ) .

The strange part of Teamania's Moonlight is that it behave's like the only Shou Mei reference i have ( 2013 YunnanSourcing Fuding's Shou Mei, now sold out ) which could make sense considering Teamania's already reached 7 years of age... but somehow feel like it's not normal for this tea to be so pungent ( and i love strong flavors, not heavy-smoked tea... but will take any other strong notes happily ) and plain once it loses the initial stab to the tongue.

Now i mentioned your white tea reviews... there's something i wanted to ask you but don't have ( nor want to ) google accounts/social media and apparently it's mandatory to post comments on your blog, so just a quick question on your 4 white teas comparison:

That Tenfu cake prompted me to make a quick search and think you mentioned you paid a little under $20 for it but then i found this . Is this the same tea you reviewed ? feeling tempted about placing an order which seems convenient with the free shipping offer ( plus they are "customs friendly" too ) so i can order a small package but still wondering if it's legit ; they have a couple interesting pu-erh cakes ( Jingmai's & Bada's ) but also wondering if those pictures in the cup are real ( Bada's looks red already... and i'm assuming they're selling a young sheng, not an aged one . Checking pictures for other teas seem to have copy-pasted pictures here & there ) .
I've not tried it. I just shared some of their "Lucky Bee" Yiwu with a friend and tea blogger from Germany and he thought it was about as good as any sheng he's ever tried. To me sheng versions vary so much in character that would have to include a lot of match to preference as a yardstick, versus being a statement about objective quality. It's in a really favorable place in an aging cycle just now too; two years ago when I first tried it that tea was exceptional but it showed promise more than the actualized potential it's onto just now. I expect it will flatten out a bit, and maybe never be as good as it is now again, although it will pick up depth as an older tea.
This is worth a new topic alone, because i remember you mentioned to me a while ago while talking about FarmerLeaf's sheng cakes... that these would probably wouldn't improve much through aging. Since that day i'm still wondering how do you evaluate how good/bad a cakes is for aging. Then again, this topic deserves a thread of its own if you don't mind creating one.
All of this may or may not tie over to the Tea Mania white tea case. Teas express one character when young, a different positive character when aged appropriately (if the potential and conditions are right), and in the middle it's normal for them to go through quieter times. Some people reject that aging white teas makes any sense to them at all, and they're probably not wrong, using their own preference for aspects and style as a yardstick. The often cited standard that white teas that can age are best after seven years may or may not work, but it kind of seems to. Even then they just trade out youthful intensity for depth and different flavor character, and never approach the complexity and intensity of aged sheng, which can start out much more intense, with compounds and aspect range to swap out that white teas never have initially.
So... all aged white teas end up reaching some common destination ( red liquor, camphor or menthol notes, dried cherries ... ) regardless of the material used ?
It occurred to me that I can easily pass on an example of a different in appearance Moonlight version, one of the ones that I've bought and have reviewed, from Farmerleaf:

https://www.farmer-leaf.com/collections ... -moonlight

It looks like standard shou mei, to me, but the photos there tell the story. One point William makes in that description is interesting and relevant:

Moonlight white will oxidize as it ages, just like Pu-erh tea, but quicker. The few months of storage and the pressing process have already given this tea a red character. It delivers incredibly good sweetness, considering it is summer material from relatively young gardens. The leaves are thick and were left intact during the processing, therefore, the tea is very long-brewing.


It would stand to reason that a drier stored white version isn't going to oxidize as much. It's a natural question to consider if any white can ferment in a comparable way to that of sheng but it's not one that seems to turn up any answers, based on discussion or experience. The flavor profile and related compounds are so different that it seems drawing that parallel doesn't make any sense. William also describes the flavor of the tea, which any two people probably wouldn't list in identical form, but the general character sounds right:

White tea is very forgivable to the tea brewer, this tea will, never feature much bitterness. If you brew it strong, it will just be thicker. The fragrance is woody and reminds of autumn leaves and a walk in the forest after the rain. The mouthfeel has a light texture and the tea doesn't have a strong effect on the body. This is the kind of tea you drink to relax and warm your body.

I've re-tried this tea version in the last month or so; that sounds about right, at least the flavor part. I'm naturally always kind of relaxed and I live in Bangkok, so warming my body doesn't come up as a goal, since it's always already hot out.
Teamania's Moonlight white cake ( 2012 based on their info ) brews dark red already but it's incredibly bitter on the first few brews.

2013 Yunnan Sourcing's Fuding Shou Mei feels way better, thicker liquor, lovely menthol notes, you can brew it however you like it... but i bought it & tasted this one first back in June and remember the tea being really viscous. Tasted it again last month and it remained more or less the same but the tea no longer was as viscous as it was back in June. Humidity over here since it arrived has been consistenly high ( around 80% or higher plenty times ) , summer temperatures within 25-30ºC/77-86ºF .

I still don't know what it is ( and then again: not blaming nor critizicing Teamania for that ) but something feels odd about TM's Moonlight cake.

Couple addendums related to all this:

- Apparently one of my 2 tea-boxes from YunnanSourcing was the one containing all ( or most of 'em) the different white cakes ( mostly mini-cakes ) so my tasting/comparisons will probably have to wait until some point next year -__- .

- On the bright side: received some of my recent KingTeaMall's tea orders including this Xiaguan's moonlight white . Currently on the "breathing" & adapting stage, can't wait to taste it ! ... and while i don't care much about looks... can't deny the "Kanashimi no belladona" / Yoshitaka Amano / Mononoke series -like artwork on the box enticed me for a while :) .
User avatar
Maerskian
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Nov 15, 2019 11:41 pm

Fri Nov 22, 2019 11:10 pm

Youzi wrote:
Fri Nov 22, 2019 5:46 pm
It's simply Assamica Tea / Yunnan Tea, dried in the "Moonlight" aka in the shade. ;)

The exact processing is like this: harvest the tea => lay the tea flat and thin and air dry it in the shadow => YGB

I've seen it more in loose form and on the Kunming market they usually sell it in Loose form too. Pressed is not that popular from what I saw.
So... only one way to do it ? O__o , so far i've seen some different approachs, different materials, different harvests ( spring, autum, blend of both... summer even ) , not to mention the one i have on my hands i keep mentioning .

What you mention about pressed versions not being popular seems to fit what i've seen so far ( with the main exception being YunnanSourcing ) and what i've wrote on a previous message.
User avatar
Youzi
Posts: 44
Joined: Tue Sep 24, 2019 1:03 pm
Location: Shaxi, Yunnan, China

Sat Nov 23, 2019 9:48 am

Maerskian wrote:
Fri Nov 22, 2019 11:10 pm
Youzi wrote:
Fri Nov 22, 2019 5:46 pm
It's simply Assamica Tea / Yunnan Tea, dried in the "Moonlight" aka in the shade. ;)

The exact processing is like this: harvest the tea => lay the tea flat and thin and air dry it in the shadow => YGB

I've seen it more in loose form and on the Kunming market they usually sell it in Loose form too. Pressed is not that popular from what I saw.
So... only one way to do it ? O__o , so far i've seen some different approachs, different materials, different harvests ( spring, autum, blend of both... summer even ) , not to mention the one i have on my hands i keep mentioning .

What you mention about pressed versions not being popular seems to fit what i've seen so far ( with the main exception being YunnanSourcing ) and what i've wrote on a previous message.
Yue Guang Bai is a Yunnan Tea. I think the mentioned process leaves quite a lot of room for variations. Basically Shade dried Yunnan White tea (no rolling or Shaqing) is Yue Guang Bai. So it can be pressed or loose, Spring, Summer, Autumn or mixed, All Bud, 1 Bud 1 leaf, 1 bud 2 leaf, 1 bud 3 leaf, just leaves. It can be from Assamica tree, or Ye Sheng aka Wild Tea, it can be plantation or Gushu, so that's quite a lot of variation.

Pressed white tea starts to get more popular, because it can be branded, and because of Pu'er's popularity and because of the popularity of aging white tea increasing.
John_B
Posts: 68
Joined: Thu Oct 12, 2017 4:42 am
Location: Bangkok
Contact:

Sun Nov 24, 2019 9:18 pm

Nice to hear that some earlier input about the Tea Mania source was helpful. I'm not sure I'd be able to add much that will be useful related to the other points and questions. I'm sorting things out myself, and only being a half dozen or so years into that, with more serious focus only in the last four, so I have lots more yet to discover than I've figured out already.

The Gong Mei (which I think you were asking about) was a Dayi / Taetea version, a mini-cake from them. That site version linked to didn't seem to be from them. The other two Moonlights I had mentioned were the Moychay and Farmerleaf versions mentioned and linked to.

It sounds really odd that a Tea Mania white tea was bitter initially. I really can't remember coming across any bitter version of any white tea. I'm not sure what to make of that, but I've tried quite a bit of white tea, some of it unconventionally processed local versions, others more type-typical.

William of Farmerleaf has posted a couple of videos in his Youtube channel related to white tea processing, and in particular he mentioned that the version I have is more oxidized than the one from the next year because it was more humid out, and took longer for it to dry. Unless I've got that backwards, I guess. White teas do oxidize, in varying amounts, they're just not rolled in order to crush plant cells and enable air contact with internal compounds to speed that up.
So... all aged white teas end up reaching some common destination ( red liquor, camphor or menthol notes, dried cherries ... ) regardless of the material used ?
This I'm not sure about. I've only tried a few significantly aged white teas and there is no extending that limited degree of exposure to a generality. Of course what people say in online discussions varies, and it's not possible to sort out which input is best, and which also relates to limited exposure of less typical experience. They do seem to pick up warm dried fruit tones, and probably go through a quiet phase in a lot of cases, and lose youthful intensity at different time-frames depending on conditions. All that is a bit general though. Some would probably just fade; that's the part one would like to pin down better, what leads to what.
Since that day i'm still wondering how do you evaluate how good/bad a [sheng] cake is for aging.
This is too much to take on in an aside, and I'm not sure my own summary would be helpful, since it's a work in progress. I've tried more than a few aged sheng at this point but connecting initial aspects and character with a relatively fully aged version is tricky. It would be helpful to have 20 years of experience to draw on, to have seen that occur firsthand in a number of cases. Even then storage factors would complicate things, and it's asking a bit much of a tea enthusiast to maintain a number of separate storage environments for over a decade to work through differences. Separated at birth cake examples are used to fill in this sort of gap, identical versions stored in different places by friends.

Others here could do better than me related to summarizing their own take, but in general my impression is that bitterness, astringency, and flavor intensity tend to indicate the kinds of intensity and complexity that will transition positively. I've experienced the most of Yiwu aged versions (which is still limited), and the bright, sweet flavors in those tend to drop away, and limited astringency and bitterness translates later to a thick body but a relatively tasteless aged version (or subtle sounds better). Of course others with the opposite past experience and opinion could raise a valid point that this relates more to what I've experienced than a broad generality. It's not a given that flavor is a main goal anyway, and it's not a given that any one aspect or narrow set of them is an objectively best goal.

What's going on with Xiaguan versions of course makes for an opposite case; those are relatively undrinkable young (unless one has high tolerance for bitterness and astringency, and less sweet and pleasant flavor range), and a dozen years on, under the right conditions, some versions are really nice. Preference needs to ground what makes for a good result, and tea quality varies by lots of factors, even within narrow production areas and individual producers. I don't even have a clear best-case in mind, a narrow set of expectations and favorite outcome related to starting point, storage input, and final output.

I will have a TChing post go up this week on this subject, but it's only a short sketch, an intro. I know of no good, clear, detailed input reference on this subject. Reading a lot of "A Tea Addict's Journal" could help, but that author doesn't do summary posts that try to capture where he stands on issues like this, he just makes comments in relation to a current experiences. It would take a half a day to read samples based on hashtag / subject search to piece together a number of related threads. Another of the better references (in terms of subject experts) is a guy who goes by Shah, who posts reviews of end points (aged tea descriptions) in a Badger and Blades sub-forum. Searching around TeaDB blog couldn't hurt, but they still seem to be piecing things together as well.
aet
Posts: 84
Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2018 7:56 pm
Location: Kunming ( China )

Sun Nov 24, 2019 10:23 pm

"... didn't pick up the Manfei rising trend" ..I know the prices from the fresh / green (not processed) tea leafs of that area directly from the local farmers till the end product wholesale prices of some producers . So if this is a spring pure MF material from arbors processed well and not badly affected by storage , this is very good deal alright ;-) Not trying to promote the vendor ( I don't know him ) , but grab the opportunity till it exists ;-)
User avatar
Elise
Posts: 230
Joined: Tue Dec 12, 2017 2:22 pm
Location: Geneva, Switzerland

Mon Nov 25, 2019 6:14 am

You can watch this video by William from Farmers Leaf to understand the difference between white tea (Yunnan Moonlight, Fujian Bai Hao Yinzhen/Bai Mu Dan/Shou Mei):
https://youtu.be/yRxrEWs3QY8
Post Reply