Last night I made a list of teas that I haven’t tried at Teance. Four of them are green teas, and three are from China. So today I asked Cheryl, but the Dafang of this season hasn’t arrived, same with the Yellow Mountain Mao Feng, the only thing left (not much) is the Anji Bai from last winter, so Anji Bai it is.
Anji Bai, grown in Shanghai, are young leaves rolled up into pointy, long needles, similar to but thicker than the Mao Jian (that means it calls for a short steep). The tea is practically colorless, with a faint faint faint yellow shine. The buttery, thick smell intensifies after the first steep (as any tea leaves after heating), the flavor is buttery, savory like the Lu Shan. I chewed a leaf after 2 steeps, it’s smooth and mild, not stringent or bitter. Like every other Chinese green tea, it’s steeped in 175 F water for about 30 s.
Depending on how buttery (umami/savory) you like your green tea, you can steep it in cooler water (160 F) or for shorter time (less than 10 seconds), or both. Cooler water and shorter time makes the tea cleaner, lighter and grassier. Hotter water makes more stuff come out of the leaves, so the tea gets thicker. I like my teas light, sweet and floral.
However, I’m torn about the Longjing. Steeped for 45 seconds, it gives a complexity of nuttiness with a vegetal aftertaste. Steeped for 10 seconds, the complexity disappears, the tea becomes dryer, clearer, more herbal, but that means it also loses the distinctive Longjing taste profile. I think I’d go with the 45-s steep just because of that distinct sweet vegetal complexity.