Xue Ya Snow Bud
This tea is a rather special white tea, unlike anything I have tasted before. This tea is grown in Fujian Province in China at an altitude of approximately 800-900m above sea level. The tea is described as having “a smooth and clean taste with a touch of smokiness that makes it rather unique.” Its name comes from the fact that the leaves look like silver buds and resemble snow buds. When the leaves are picked, they look as if they have been covered in a fine layer of snow. In order to make this tea small and young buds are picked, which results in a very fine taste.
The tea leaves come from the Fuding Da Bai cultivar, which is the same cultivar as other white teas from this area.
On this map, you can see the location of the Fuding tea growing areas where this tea comes from (source).
The dry leaves look like they are covered in a thin layer of snow.
The wet leaves have a vibrant green color. You can see the small and tender leaves that were used.
- Water 70 °C
- 5g of tea leaves for 150ml glass teapot
- 1 rinse
- 8 steeps
The smell of the dry leaves is a combination of woody notes and a light fruity aroma.
After rinsing, the smell of the leaves was more floral and fruity.
1st steep: this steep has a clean taste with subtle smoky and woody notes. Not Really getting the fruity flavours. Just a light woody taste.
2nd steep: more intense smoky flavour. Very dry feeling in the mouth but not really astringent. I guess this is the ‘chalky’ mouthfeel they talk about in the description of the tea.
3rd steep: I did 80°C water for this steep as I wanted to spice things up a bit. The smell of the leaves was much more floral but this steep was more bitter than the two previous ones. I’m happy that I changed the temperature for this one so I could taste what the difference would be. I got less woody notes and very subtle fruity flavours. These, however, were only barely noticeable.
4th steep: I went back to 70°C for this steep but lowered the amount of water because I was still waiting on the fruity flavours. I got very light notes of unripe fruits. Less smoky and more astringent so this tea really starts to show its complexities.
5th steep: light smoky character with notes of unripe fruits. A lot more of this than during the previous steeps. Really pleasant to drink.
6th steep: light fruity notes without smoky flavours. Interesting steep and I really get why this tea is described as a complex tea.
I was planning on doing six steeps but I’m going to do two more just because this tea is intriguing. It has some complex flavours that are not easy to “pin down”.
7th steep: again, very light notes of unripe fruits. The woody flavour from the earlier steeps is completely gone. Some light smoky notes remain.
8th steep: smoky notes from the start in combination with unripe fruits.
After reading the description of this tea, I was eager to try it for myself. I am glad I did it because these leaves did not disappoint. During the earlier steeps, I did not really experience the fruity notes but got some pleasant woody / smoky flavours instead. I also got a chalky mouthfeel so only a slight dryness.
It was during the later steeps that I experienced unripe fruits. I totally get why this tea is described as a complex tea. It looks like the tea doesn’t want to share its wisdom all at once and that you only get a partial view on the things this tea is trying to tell you.