White Peony (Bai Mudan in Mandarin) Tea is a Chinese white tea. Unlike the more famous and more expensive White Hair Silver Needle Tea, which is made from only the leaf shoots, White Peony contains plucks of one leaf shoot and two young leaves each. Due to the inclusion of two young leaves with each shoot, Bai Mudan Tea has a much fuller and more fruity flavor and aroma than Silver Needle Tea, but is still similarly fresh, mellow and mild.
Where to buy
This tea can be found in most specialty tea shops or through a number of online vendors. If you are unsure where to begin, you can check out some of my recommendations below.
How to Prepare White Peony Tea
The preparation instructions given here are for loose leaf teas. For tea bags, you can just follow the instructions given on the box.
Like all white teas, this one should be steeped in cooler water than black or oolong teas.
A temperature of 75-80°C (167-176°F) is a good starting point. To get this temperature, you can just use a simple stove-top kettle to bring the water to a boil and then let it cool down for about five minutes. If you would like to be more accurate in judging the water temperature, you can simply use a thermometer.
If you plan on trying a lot of varieties of tea and/or coffee it might be worth it to invest in a water boiler/warmer or an electric kettle with a variable temperature setting. Personally, I recommend this Cuisinart kettle, because it has presets for every type of tea, so you always get the perfect temperature:
You can brew White Peony Tea in any regular teapot, although I would recommend using one made from glass or ceramic. Many connoisseurs use a traditional lidded brew cup known as a gaiwan.
The gaiwan can be used for oolong teas and green teas as well.
- Fill both your brew cup and tasting bowl about halfway with hot water to preheat them. Tilt them a bit so that the water creeps up the side and then rotate them so the insides get wet all the way around. Then pour the water out. If you are using a teapot and tea cups, warm those up in a similar fashion.
- Put about 2 teaspoons of tea leaves in the brew cup. If you are using a teapot, use 2 teaspoons for each cup of tea.
- Pour hot water onto the leaves in the brew cup (or the teapot). The water temperature should be below boiling; around 75-80°C (167-176°F) is ideal.
- Place the lid on the brew cup and let the tea steep for 2-3 minutes.
- After 2 or 3 minutes, pour the tea into the tasting bowl, using the lid of the brew cup to hold back the leaves. Enjoy your tea!
- You can get 3-5 infusions out of most varieties. Increase the steeping time one minute for each subsequent infusion. How many infusions you do depends entirely on your taste. Experiment.
Use the amounts given in these instructions as a rough guide. If you find the resulting tea too weak, add more tea leaves; if it is too strong, reduce the amount of leaves used. Similarly, try increasing or decreasing the steeping times.
Many people already have an account with Amazon.com so it is probably the easiest place to buy tea online. Unfortunately, their selection of Bai Mudan is severely lacking; they have a few pretty good values, i.e. average teas for very low prices, but I have yet to find a good quality option on their site. Your best bet is this 2 lb bag of White Peony from Coffee Bean Direct. It’s not the greatest quality, but it’s decent and you can’t beat the price.
My personal favorite is the Organic Bai Mudan from Teavivre. It is the highest quality one I’ve found online.
If you’re looking for a lower priced option, Art of Tea has an Organic White Peony that’s quite a bit cheaper. Naturally, the quality is also a bit lower, but overall, this tea is a great value.