Bai Ya Qilan (White Buds Qilan) Oolong Tea


Bai Ya Qilan is a lightly oxidized, multiple roast oolong tea from southeast China’s Fujian province’s Pinghe district. There, the higher altitudes of Daqinshan mountain, shrouded in fog all year round, offer ideal growing conditions for the special cultivar. The tea derives its name from the light color of its young spring buds (“Bai Ya”=”white bud”) and its unique, velvety-sweet taste, reflecting in the exquisite orchid aroma (“qilan”=”strange orchid”).

For more information and illustration refer to the product description below.


Bai Ya Qilan (White Buds Qilan) Oolong Tea


Bai Ya Qilan Oolong Tea - lightly oxidized, multiple-roast oolong tea from Daqinshan mountain, southern Fujian's highest peak

Bai Ya Qilan Oolong Tea – click picture/s to enlarge

1. Origin and History

The discovery of the “Bai Ya Qilan” tea cultivar goes back to the middle of the 18th century. At that time, a farmer in southern Fujian’s Pinghe district discovered a tea plant that he noticed because of the special light gray-green color of its leaves. Curious, he plucked some of the tea leaves in order to process them into oolong tea. As a result, he received a tea standing out with a wonderful orchid note and a long-lasting, velvety-sweet aftertaste. Because of the light color of its young spring buds and its special orchid aroma, the cultivar was soon named “Bai Ya” (=”white bud”) “Qilan” (=”strange orchid”).

Bai Ya Qi Lan - mother bush and descendants

Ba Ya Qilan – the cultivar : mother bush and descendants

The following period saw the cultivar‘s targeted reproduction and cultivation around the original site, Pinghe’s “Daqinshan”. There, the higher altitudes of southern Fujian’s highest peak are shrouded in fog all year round. This offers the tea plant optimal cultivation conditions. It is even said that the cultivar’s young spring buds have their white-gray color from this very fog… As customary back then, a high degree of biodiversity characterizes the tea garden’s surroundings on the densely forested Daqinshan.

Daqinshan - Pinghe - Bai Ya Qilan tea garden

Daqinshan – Pinghe – Bai Ya Qilan Tea Garden

2. Taste and Appearance

Typical of the Bai Ya Qilan Oolong tea is the tightly rolled spherical shape of the tea leaves. Both appearance and taste are reminiscent of Tie Guan Yin Oolong tea, which also comes from South Fujian. These similarities on the one hand are due to parallels in the processing of both types of tea. On the other hand, they result from both cultivar’s shared terroir. For example, the overwhelming honey sweetness of the intensely golden yellow cup is an aromatic characteristic of both teas.

It’s especially the delicate multiple roasting that makes our Bai Ya Qilan Oolong tea gain in complexity and depth. At this, the said honey sweetness and spicy roast notes literally transcend into a unique, perfectly harmonious overall picture.

Bai Ya Qilan Oolong Tea - lightly oxidized, multiple-roast oolong tea from Daqinshan mountain, southern Fujian's highest peak

3. Picking and Processing

The picking time for Bai Ya Qilan Oolon tea extends from around mid-April to early May. At this, best qualities are picked on sunny days between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. The picking standard is formed by up to a maximum of 4 youngest leaves at the end of each shoot. The subsequent processing basically follows the scheme of Oolong tea processing. However, the local practice in southern Fujian has some peculiarities.

outdoor and indoor withering of tea leaves

outdoor / indoor withering

The picking first follows a phase of first outdoor then indoor withering of the tea leaves. Already during this process begins the breaking up of the leaf surfaces and cell walls by gently rubbing the tea leaves against each other. This is done in a special device and is serves the initiation of the oxidation process. At this, there’s a resting phase between each of altogether 5 passes, during which oxidation can take its course.

machinal rolling of tea leaves - individually and in bale

machinal rolling of the tea leaves – individually and in bale

After reaching the desired degree of oxidation, the tea leaves undergo heating to a relatively high temperature for a few minutes. This is traditionally done in the wok pan and serves to end the enzymatic oxidation processes in the tea leaf. The subsequent process of alternating machine rolling and roasting of the tea leaves in bamboo devices over charcoal fire comprises 3 cycles. It serves to remove remaining cell structures and distribute the juices evenly in the tea leaf. Also, the leaves continue to lose moisture from roast to roast. Accordingly, the dry, ready-processed tea leaf marks the end of the 3rd roasting cycle.

multiple roasting of tea leaves in bamboo devices over chacoal fire

roasting of tea leaves in bamboo devices over charcoal fire

4. Preparation

There are always two alternative ways of preparing an oolong tea. One of these is the preparation of a comparatively small amount of tea leaves over one or a few infusions. This type of preparation is often referred to as “western style”. However, this is not entirely true, since the approach is also quite common in everyday Chinese (tea) life. To do this, pour boiling hot water (90-100°C) over 2.5-3g tea leaves / 100ml. Then leave for 2-4 minutes, depending on individual taste preference, for a delicious first infusion. This way, our Bai Ya Qilan Oolong tea will produce 2-3 equally tasty follow-up infusions. The exact number of possible worthy infusions, however, depends on each steep’s individual brewing time.

Alternatively, the “Gong-Fu” approach is the preparation over a longer series of infusions with short individual brewing times. At this, a comparatively high dosage beyond 3g tea leaves per 100ml water is common. As a rule of thumb, the higher the dosage, the shorter the individual infusion time per infusion. Accordingly, you usually start with a steeping time of well under a minute for the first infusion. Subsequent infusions then initially have a similar or even shorter brewing period. With subsiding taste, however, increase the steeping time again in order to continue to achieve attractive taste results.

In the course of “Gong Fu Cha” preparation, olong teas change their taste profile from infusion to infusion. This makes the Gong-Fu approach particularly interesting for this type of tea.

Additional information

Weight N/A

25g, 50g, 100g


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