Anji bai cha tea: From being lost to history to one of China’s most popular teas

Anji bai cha tea is a modern tea with a storied, but fascinating history. To this day, its full history is still unknown, but that hasn’t stopped it from becoming one of the most valuable teas cultivated in China today.

Anji bai cha, pronounced AN-jee bi chah, translates to Anji white tea. Anji refers to the area in China from which it originated, but contrary to its name, Anji bai cha is actually a green tea variety, not white. Believe it or not, this misnomer is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the history of Anji bai cha tea.

The history of Anji bai cha tea

For hundreds of years, Anji bai cha tea was nothing more than mysterious lore in Chinese culture. This was all thanks to the writings of Emperor Huizong, sometimes written as Song Hui Zhong or Song Huizong, who ruled as part of the Song Dynasty from 1100-1125.

Considered to be a tea connoisseur, Emperor Huizong wrote what is considered to be one of the most important pieces of literature for understanding the Song Dynasty’s tea ceremony. It was in this text that the emperor referred to his particular liking for Anji bai cha which would leave the world puzzled for hundreds of years, questioning whatever became of this “white tea” he so adored.

The rediscovery of Anji bai cha

Fast forward to the 1980s when a single tea bush was discovered in Anji County in the Zhejiang province of China with buds that resembled white jade. Upon this discovery, scholars were able to determine that this bush was, in fact, the source of Emperor Huizong’s long-lost “white tea.”

After all this time they were able to figure out that it wasn’t an actual white tea that he was writing about, but rather, a green tea whose leaves he compared to the color of white jade, a gemstone that has been highly valued throughout Chinese history. From this single bush, the cultivation of Anji bai cha tea has resumed as its popularity has skyrocketed.

What does Anji bai cha taste like?

It’s no wonder that Emperor Huizong was such a fan of Anji bai cha. This green tea has a unique flavor that’s all its own.

Anji bai cha features a refreshing balance of sweet, citrus, and floral notes that won’t leave any unpleasant aftertaste in your mouth. Its flavor is so one-of-a-kind due, in part, to the plant’s growing conditions.

Anji County lies at a high elevation with a cool winter and spring climate. It is because of this that the tea leaves get their iconic white jade coloring. Chlorophyll is what gives leaves their green appearance, but with lower temperatures and less sunlight, Anji bai cha leaves don’t have enough chlorophyll before they’re harvested in early spring to give them a full, bright green color.

In fact, Anji bai cha has an extremely short harvesting period of just 30 days because it needs to be collected before the chlorophyll levels become too high. Once this happens, the tea loses its signature flavor.

How should Anji bai cha be brewed?

If you’re reading this, chances are you aren’t a novice tea drinker and know that not all tea is created equal. The preparation of a good cup of tea can vary greatly from one variety to another.

Anji bai cha is rather delicate, so it must be brewed at a low temperature in order to retain all its qualities. Steeping this tea at 175 degrees Fahrenheit or 80 degrees Celsius for about 3-5 minutes, depending on preference, is ideal.

How much caffeine is in Anji bai cha?

Like most green teas, Anji bai cha has a moderate amount of caffeine, clocking in at about 30-50mg per serving. Depending on your sensitivity, this amount of caffeine may not have a very noticeable effect. A cup of coffee has about 100mg per cup, so if you’re looking to sip on something that won’t give you a huge jolt, Anji bai cha is a great option.

Are there any benefits to drinking Anji bai cha?

One of the perks of growing tea at a high altitude is that the leaves develop twice as many amino acids as other green teas, which not only contributes to its sweet flavor, but to its overall wellness benefits as well.

Those amino acids are phenomenal for combatting stress, as they help to lower cortisol levels in the body. This provides the added benefit of strengthening your immune system, as too much cortisol can wreak havoc on your health and causes symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Headaches
  • Heart disease and related cardiac issues
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Weight gain
  • Muscles soreness
  • Digestive issues

In general, green tea is highly regarded for its health benefits. Studies have shown that it can aid in weight loss and digestive regularity, reduce inflammation, and improve brain function.

Drinking Anji bai tea certainly isn’t a cure-all for any health issue, but its cortisol-suppressing properties can have a calming effect. As always, if you’re considering adding anything new to your diet or would like to try a new treatment option for any health-related ailment, it’s a good idea to discuss these changes with your medical provider first.

Is Anji bai cha similar to other teas?

Anji bai cha is unique in its own regard, but it is considered one of the most popular teas to be cultivated in China. If you enjoy Anji bai cha, you won’t want to pass up the opportunity to try some of China’s other most highly-regarded tea varieties, including:

  • Longjing (Dragon Well)
  • Jasmine Pearls
  • Zhu Ye Qing (bamboo green tea)
  • Mao Jian (jade tips)
  • Huang Shan Mao Feng (yellow mountain fur peak)

Whether you’re a total tea enthusiast or just starting to learn about the endless varieties out there, Anji bai cha is well worth a try. Thanks to its mysterious disappearance and relatively recent resurgence, we’re lucky to even have this refreshing tea available to us at all. There’s just something about enjoying a cup of tea steeped in history that makes it extra enjoyable.