Drum Mountain White Cloud
Drum Mountain White Cloud or “Gushan Baiyun” is a white tea from the northern Fujian mountaintop where the historic Buddhist Drum Mountain Monastery have grown their teas for centuries. The delecate leaves infuse into a fragrant and sweet cup that is low in caffeine.
Our rare Drum Mountain White Cloud is a must-try tea for tea connoisseurs, white tea lovers and Dragonwell drinkers. Its flavor is a cross between the rich sweetness of White Peony (“Bai Mu Dan”) white tea and the delicate vegetal notes of a quality Dragonwell (“Long Jing”) green tea.
In China, Drum Mountain White Cloud is known as “Gushan Baiyu.” “Shan” means “mountain” and is used in the names of many Taiwanese oolongs from esteemed tea-producing mountains. “Bai” means “white” and is part of the Chinese names for Silver Needle (“Bai Hao Yin Zhen”), White Peony (“Bai Mu Dan”) and Formosa Oolong/Oriental Beauty (“Bai Hao Oolong”).
Like Drum Mountain Clouds and Mist green tea, our Drum Mountain White Cloud is a unique tea that hails from Drum Mountain in Northern Fujian, China. Drum Mountain is the home of a famous Buddhist monastery that has been harvesting and processing teas for centuries. Monks harvest our White Cloud tea near the peak of the mountain, where clouds and mist shroud the tealeaves from sunlight. This marvelous form of shade growing causes the plants to grow slowly, and slow growth encourages the tealeaves to have a uniquely sweet, dense flavors when processed. Cloud-blanketed, high-elevation tea growing environments like Drum Mountain are known as “yu-wu” and are considered to be ideal for the production of the very finest Chinese teas.
To make Drum Mountain White Cloud, the monks of Drum Mountain Monastery must first carefully harvest sets of two leaves and a bud from Chaicha and Narcissus tea plants (varietals that are considered to be the best for white tea production) growing near Drum Mountain’s peak. After the harvest, they process the leaves in a manner similar to the processing of our White Peony tea. Like White Peony, the leaves are withered and dried – a minimal amount of processing that results in a high level of antioxidants and a shape reminiscent of growing tealeaves and tea buds. However, there is one key difference in processing. Our White Peony is withered indoors in the shade and our Drum Mountain White Cloud is withered outside in what little sunlight filters though the mists surrounding the monastery. Because of this difference, the tea master must be especially careful when judging the weather conditions of the day and the rate at which the tea withers to determine when the tea is ready to be dried.
The result of this extraordinary origin and processing is a leaf style that is similar to White Peony, but greener. Its white, downy buds and delicate, olive-green leaves offer an incredibly sweet scent thanks to hints of vanilla, cinnamon, spearmint, flowers and milk chocolate. Brewing White Cloud releases its vegetal side – the wet leaves bear aromas of steamed vegetables and mulched grass, and the butter-yellow infusion smells like dried grasses, fresh cream, roasted artichoke hearts and steamed white asparagus. Likewise, the flavor of White Cloud is sweetly vegetal, much like a particularly mellow Dragonwell. Green notes of roasted leeks and sugar peas are balanced by sweetly satiating flavors of fresh flowers, vanilla, cardamom, nuts and tart-sweet peaches. The aftertaste is mellow and nectarous with a hint of apricot.
Although we prefer drinking Drum Mountain White Cloud on its own, it’s also delicious with a range of mild foods, including oatmeal with whole milk and cinnamon, peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream, and creamy, homemade potato leek soup.
To brew a cup of Drum Mountain White Cloud that’s as ethereal and mysterious as its origins, use two heaping tablespoons of leaves for each cup of steaming (not boiling) water. White Cloud is usually infused for three to four minutes, but it can be steeped seven minutes or longer without getting bitter. Try brewing it in a small glass teapot or gaiwan for a particularly sophisticated, diaphanous flavor.