A white tea varietal, previously processed into Anji Bai Cha green tea and since a few years called Golden Sprout because of its golden leaves. Confusing right? The story
of this tea from Dutch tea seller Thee van Sander is interesting before you even start tasting.
A little educational note to begin with: Anji Bai Cha (Anji White Tea), made in green tea province Zhejiang, is a highly sought after and often pretty expensive green tea. It is a green tea because it’s processed in a similar way as other green teas, but the tea is actually from a white tea cultivar, called Bai Ye. Anji Bai Cha leaves start green when steeped but that color slowly fades and the leaves turn white, a beautiful transformation that makes a tea session even more special to me.
Now, until a few years ago these bushes were processed as an Anji Bai Cha as well. However, they noticed these leaves to be very yellow/gold in color. So at the beginning of this decade the farmers started a new plantation using these odd looking plants and the last few years they slowly begin to pick and process from this new plantation.
The reason why these leaves are so golden is the soil the plants are growing in. According to Thee van Sander both the soil and water contain a lot of selenium, a trace element that works as an antioxidant as well and that has all kinds of health benefits, and on top of that makes the heavy metals in your food in case of contamination less harmful (toxic).
Although labeled as a different tea, this Golden Sprout still has lots of Anji Bai Cha characteristics. For me, drinking Anji Bai Cha requires having a completely clean tasting palate. If I would drink it after eating food that is spicy, has a thick, sweet sauce or is really salty, I wouldn’t taste any of it. Anji Bai Cha is a very light yet very complex tea. It’s not outspoken but has a lot of subtle layers that are very interesting if you are in the mood for some real taste geeking.
I often do a session after a glass of water or two in the morning and before breakfast, so that I get every subtlety on my tongue. That’s what I did with this Golden Sprout too and the signature of Anji Bai Cha is all over this tea. It has those same vegetal notes with sweet hints of tropical fruit and a tiny little bit of star anise in it. It has a lingering sweetness that might be more present than in other Anji Bai Cha, but differences are hardly noticeable. I love the clear taste of this tea, which makes it extremely refreshing and suited for summer days.
Although there are many types or cultivars within a type of tea available, there is a certain group of famous tea (names) that you’ll always find in shops. But there must be so much more in China than those well-known teas. Plants of varietals grown in such small quantities that it never reaches the bigger public but always stays among the locals. Or a few bushes like these that are tucked away in the corner and produce a different taste than the rest, because of soil, sunlight, or whatever reason. There must be hundreds or thousands of teas like this and it’s nice that Sander brought some of these rare or new finds with him last year to share something new to tea lovers in Holland.