Tianmu Lake White Tea (天目湖白茶)

Name Tiānmù hú bǎi chá / 天目湖白茶
English Tianmu Lake White Tea
Region Liyang, Jiangsu
Brewing Brew two or three two-minute infusions at 80°C

Tianmu Lake White Tea is a new tea to China and, surprisingly, a member of the Top 10 Teas for the Shanghai World Expo. Rather confusingly, this “white” tea is actually a green tea whose leaves are light in color due to its low chlorophyll and polyphenol content. It is considered a green tea because of its manufacturing process: withering, pan firing and shaping, followed by firing gently over charcoal. Very similar to Anji White Tea, Tianmu Lake White Tea was only introduced in 1999.

According to the website Amazing Green Tea, “A special characteristic of (these) tea plants is that they produce very little green chlorophyll during the winter (minus 8 to 10 degree Celsius). Two things result: since less theanine is converted to chlorophyll, the tea buds contain higher levels of health enhancing theanine, and the tea buds are white in color.” In fact, it has been reported that this type of tea has up to 4 times more theanine (Considered to be an antagonist to caffeine and other elements that can excite the brain and central nervous system, theanine is understood to have a calming effect that helps to lend balance and focus to the mind.) than other green teas.

Yet, how did a tea only introduced in 1999 make the list of The Shanghai World Expo Top 10 Teas even beating out the much more famous Anji White Tea (compare Tianmu Lake White Tea on the left and Anji White Tea on the right)?

Tea Tip – The Shanghai World Expo Top 10 Teas (中国世博十大名茶)

In March of 2010, the Shanghai World Expo Top 10 Teas were named:

  • Fujian Anxi Tieguanyin (福建安溪铁观音)
  • Guizhou Duyun Maojian (贵州都匀毛尖)
  • Hunan Heicha (湖南黑茶)
  • Hangzhou Xihu Longjing (杭州西湖龙井)
  • Fujian Wuyi Yancha (福建武夷岩茶(大红袍))
  • Anhui Qimen Hongcha (安徽祈门红茶)
  • Anhui Liuan Guapian (安徽六安瓜片)
  • Jiangsu Tianmu Hu Baicha (江苏天目湖白茶)
  • Beijing Zhang Yiyuan Huacha (北京张一元花茶)
  • Fuijian Fuding Baicha (福建福鼎白茶)

Compared to the more widely recognized list discussed last week, this list omits Huangshan Maofeng, Biluochun, Junshan Yinzhen and Puerh, while adding Tianmu Baicha, Hunan Heicha, Guizhou Maojian and Beijing Jasmine. The blog “Life in a Teacup” attributed this list to money and big business rather than any objective measure of quality, volume or other impartial measure. A memorable comment:

What shocked me the most is Tian Mu Lake White Tea. I am sure it’s a great tea, but in terms of popularity, I wonder if it could possibly enter “top 200″ China famous teas. The tea is introduced from An Ji, home of An Ji White Tea. But Tian Mu Lake White Tea is not comparable to An Ji White Tea in terms of quality, popularity, production, history… actually not in any aspect. Yet An Ji White Tea was excluded from the “Top 10″. An Ji White Tea being excluded is not a big problem. After all, there are so many famous green teas in China. However, it seems to me a huge problem that Tian Mu Lake White Tea is listed as “Top 10″. No that it’s not a good tea, but how exactly did it get there? Some tea professional says that the top manufacturers of Tian Mu Lake White Tea paid $$$$$$ to get in. I don’t know the source of the information, but I am sure it takes something, money or something else, for it to be listed in the “Top 10″.

Despite all this, I am becoming a big fan of theanine so I liked this tea. The story of Tianmu Lake White Tea adds some politics, money and intrigue to the Taobao Tea Trail.

More Information (from Baidu Baike):

Tianmu Lake white tea hails from Jiangsu Province. Most tea growers are based in the city of Liyang, a small town by the Tianmu Lake. Although named “white tea”, Tianmu Lake white tea and its more established cousin Anji white tea are actually green tea. The tea trees underwent mutation which resulted in tea leaves with a much lighter color than most other green teas. Tea growers gave this mutated variant a rather misleading name “white tea”.

Tianmu Lake white tea has a very short harvest lasting from early April to early May. Teas harvested any later are deemed far inferior in taste. The leaves are of a very pale green color. When brewed, the liquid has a tinge of yellow. Tianmu Lake white tea tastes very mild and delicate, making it a rather soothing green tea.

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3 thoughts on “Tianmu Lake White Tea (天目湖白茶)

  1. Sue Crawford

    Someone gave me some of this tea and I love it’s delicate aroma and taste. Thank you for this information!

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