Last Updated on 08/02/2020 by Desmond
Fujian province is famous in white tea, most of the products originated from there. But Yunnan, the south-west of China, also manufactures a particular type of whiter tea- Moonlight White Tea. It not only got a romance named, but also a unique appearance got both black and white color.
What Is Moonlight White Tea
Moonlight white tea, also called moonlight beauty, originated in Yunnan. Unlike the ordinary Fujian white tea, moonlight white tea was made from the Yunnan big leaf Camellia Sinensis, so there’s a distinct difference in taste between them. Precisely because of this, moonlight white tea is in an awkward position.
According to the standard of the Chinese products, tea from Yunnan big leaf tea tree can not be classified into white tea. But according to the traditional processing methods and the fermentation degree, it exactly belongs to white tea.
About the tea name, there is a story. When the moon comes at night, young and beautiful local ladies will go to pick the tea leaves all night and then bring them home for processing. The overall process can not let any sunlight on it, leaves will only be withering under the moonlight slowly. So people called this tea moonlight beauty. And it also accords with the “Yin” meaning in Chinese philosophy, because the moon is the symbol of “Yin.”
Of course, it is just a legend. The reason why it called moonlight white tea, just take a look, and you will understand. The leaves are big and bend, what marvelous is, one side is black, and the other side is white, looks like the moon at night.
Why the moonlight white tea got both black and white color, such sharp contrast? About this unique appearance, many sayings tell it was from particular processing, which was a secret. That makes the moonlight beauty more mysterious. If fact, it just the marketing tactics of the merchants.
The reason why there are two colors on the moonlight white tea leaves is simple. Because it has not been fixation and rolling during the processing, and the fuzz on the leaves are preserved. The leaves after drying, the pigment has precipitated and makes the color turn dark. So the smooth side looks black, and the other side with fuzz looks white.
Even though the raw material leaves come from different plants, moonlight white tea has the same processing as the ordinary white tea. It has been picking, withering, and drying. And this is the most simple processing in all types of teas. Even you can say white tea is more natural than green tea.
The picking standard of moonlight white tea is one bud one leaf or two leaves. After picking, the fresh leaves will be placed on a bamboo sieve for withering, and will not take fixation like other teas. The withering typically doing indoor, at an about 28℃-30℃, 50%-53% humidity environment, costs about 2-3 days. In the end, they will be drying by machines, to make the water content reduce to 4%-5%.
A part of the legend is right; during the whole processing, the leaves can not be exposed to direct sunlight. The fermentation degree of moonlight white tea is just about 10%, belongs to slightly-fermented tea. Due to the tea tannin has changed by oxidation, the bitter and herbaceous taste gone. According to the white tea standard, it needs to control the fermentation well to make the brewing infusion show light yellow. Once excessive, like black tea, which been completed-fermented, and that will be failure products.
Compared to the light taste of Fuding white tea, moonlight tea can send out a strong potpourri after brewed because they made from different raw fresh leaves. In the new tea case, it may with a mildly bitter taste, but after a few rounds brewing, the bitter taste will turn to sweet like honey or some fruits unknowingly. And the infusion also turns red from yellow slowly.
The Disputed Point Of Moonlight White Tea
In the tea lover’s group, there is an argument about the moonlight white tea, is it really belongs to white tea? Or Pu-erh tea?
In traditional, white tea is mainly produced in Fujian Province, China. Bai Hao Silver Needle, White Peony, And Shou Mei are famous. And moonlight white tea is from Yunnan Province, the material fresh leaves are the same as the local specialty, Pu-erh tea, from the big leaf Camellia Sinensis.
So there is a big difference between their appearance. The Fuding white tea leaves are straight, light-green bodies and full of fuzz. And moonlight white loose tea leaves are bent and dark bodies, only one side has white fuzz.
Some people thought it has the same material leaves are the same as Pu-erh tea, and the taste also close. What’s more, most of the moonlight tea is pressed into tea cakes for sale. It seems reasonable to classified into Pu-erh tea; many merchants exactly do like this.
But they are wrong. Moonlight white tea hasn’t been pile fermentation, which is the core processing of Pu-erh tea. It has only been withering like the traditional white tea, and belongs to white tea ideally. Of course, no matter what type of tea it is, it will not affect you to enjoy its pleasant taste.
How To Store Moonlight White Tea
Most moonlight white tea is pressed into cakes for sale. Then you may ask, can moonlight white tea stores for aging like dark tea?
The answer is Yes. But if you have a habit of aging Pu-erh tea, remember never put them with moonlight white tea cakes together. Because they were processing in different methods.
Pu-er tea belongs to post-fermented tea, it can store for a long time, to let the tea fermenting slowly. The ingredients of it also will be changed, and foam a fragrant and mellow taste. An exacting requirement to the storage environment is high on the temperature and humidity, which is suitable for the go on fermenting. And the change of taste is most from the effect of oxidation.
And moonlight white tea belongs to slightly-fermented tea. The storage environment should be dark, dry, and low temperature, to prevent it from going on fermenting. So the taste change, mostly from the switch of ingredients it contains. If to store in a wrong way, it may lead to excessive fermenting, the teas will go bad and get the sour taste.
The moonlight white tea after aging will get special aging-aroma. The taste will become more mellow and can be brewed more rounds. But the original fragrance will be significantly reduced, and easy to spoil due to the improper storage; it seems not worth to do that. So to the moonlight white tea, recommend consuming it when it still new. Besides, the shelf life of moonlight white tea typically is 2-3 years.