White Tea Cakes

 

Zhenghe, along with Fuding in Fujian, as I’ve noted, are regions better known for their White teas. A few weeks ago I noted the popularity of aged White Tea Cakes in China’s domestic market, spurred by the supposed health benefits once white teas have been aged. Due to the tradition of compressing and aging teas in Yunnan, White tea cakes produced there have been around for a long time. The recent surge of interest has made Fujian’s white teas a hot item, where once this was but a tiny category in the domestic market. Here are two:

1st grade Mudan White Cake

1st grade Mudan White Cake

GongMei White Cake

GongMei White Cake

As one would expect from our knowledge of Pu-erh, steam is used to soften white tea leaves before compressing them into cakes. The Fujian cakes shown here are 350 grams and are young, made in late spring of 2015, which accounts for the gentler prices.

Flavor-wise, we found the 2nd having fuller flavor, as one might expect. Gongmei, after all, is a slightly oxidized White. In sum, at this point at any rate, these cakes make for interesting presentation of white tea, but the result of aging is not as dramatic as what aging does for Pu-erh. These aged White teas do not have the earthy character so distinctive of Pu-erh nor do these young cakes depart dramatically from loose White teas. Still, these are the products responsible for driving up the price of White teas in recent years.

Text and photographs courtesy of Lydia Kung