Bái Lù: White Dew

Bai Lu

白露 Bái Lù: White Dew

白露 Bái Lù, which translates as White Dew, is the 15th solar term in the Ancient Chinese Solar Calendar and the 3rd term of the fall season. This year it starts on September 7th and continues through September 22nd. 白露 Bái Lù begins when the sun reaches the celestial longitude of 165° and ends when it reaches the longitude of 180°.

Let’s look at the meaning of 白露 Bái Lù:

白Bái: white
露Lù: dew

白露 Bái Lù marks the beginning of an abundant dew that appears on plant life early in the morning which typically does not dry out until later in the day. Furthermore, Chinese culture associates autumn with the metal element which is linked with the color white, hence “white” dew.

“White, white the reed
Dew not yet dried
Where is she I need
On the other side

-from 诗经 Book of Songs (oldest existing collection of Chinese poetry dating from the 11th to 7th centuries B.C.)

Although 白露 Bái Lù is already the third term of the fall season on the Chinese solar Calendar, only now will you start to feel the cool of autumn commencing.

It is getting colder with every rainfall in the autumn, and a layer of white dew, a layer of frost – Ancient Proverb

Each of the 24 solar terms is further divided into 3 pentads, a group of five days. All three pentads of 白露 Bái Lù, have to do with birds:

1st pentad – 鴻雁來 wild geese arrive
2nd pentad – 玄鳥歸 swallows return
3rd pentad –群鳥養羞 birds prepare for winter

The Land During 白露 Bái Lù: White Dew


“Sunflowers smile in summer; in early autumn, cicadas wake people from sleep, wild geese return during Bái Lù and the osmanthus fragrance fills the garden at the autumnal equinox.”
–Ancient Proverb

白露 Bái Lù brings with it cooler temperatures, dryer weather, changing magnificent landscapes and white dew.

It is wise to have an extra layer of clothing on you or with you during 白露 Bái Lù as we continue dealing with fluctuating temperatures. Afternoons might still bring the heat up but mornings and evenings are drastically cooler.

Make sure you spend time outdoors enjoying the brilliant and breathtaking views of the changing landscape and taking some deep inhales of refreshing and invigorating air.

“The heavy sweat condenses into heavy fruits, and people are happy, grateful, and share”
–白露 Bái Lù, or White Dew solar term proverb

Animal life such as birds are preparing to migrate south, while others have begun their search for hibernating spots and foraging to store food for the winter.

“Thick grow the rush leaves
White dew turns to frost
He whom I love
Must be somewhere along this stream
I went up the river to look for him
But the way was difficult and long
I went down the stream to look for him
And there in the middle
Sure enough, was he!
-from 诗经 Book of Songs (oldest existing collection of Chinese poetry dating from the 11th to 7th centuries B.C.)

White Dew Tea

Chinese girl picking tea leaves

In China people are accustomed to drinking white dew tea during this time of year. White dew tea consists of leaves that have been harvested specifically during 白露 Bái Lù. Tea leaves which have been picked during spring are considered tender and bitter. Those harvested in summer are dry and harsh, while during white dew the tea leaves have a mellow taste.

“Spring tea is bitter, summer tea is harsh, Bái Lù tea tastes better.”
– Ancient Chinese Proverb

White dew tea is however not the only beverage that the Chinese people enjoy drinking during 白露 Bái Lù. Since antiquity they have collected the white dew itself and drank it as a beverage or used it to prepare drinks, such as tea for example.

“When autumn dew is plentiful, it is collected on a plate and cooked like malt, which makes people not hungry”
– 李时珍 Li Shizhen of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)

李时珍Li Shizhen of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) was one of the legendary physicians of China. In 1596 李时珍 Li Shizhenhis published an extraordinary herbology encyclopedia entitled 本草綱目 Bencao Gangmu, also known as Compendium of Materia Medica. This medical text lists white dew as a substance which carries medicinal properties and is capable of healing minor illnesses. Dr. Shizhen explains that white dew has a cooling effect on the body when consumed.

白露 Bái Lù & Rice Wine

“Bái Lù weather is fine and the rice is as white as silver.”
– folk saying

Typically by this time of the year rice has just been harvested and so another time honored tradition in China is making rice wine during 白露 Bái Lù and gathering with friends to drink it.

“Among the flowers with wine beneath the sky
Alone I drink — no friend or kin, just me
I raise my cup to toast the moon on high
That’s two of us; my shadow makes it three
Alas, the poor moon knows not wine’s delight
My shadow follows like a living thing
At last with moon and shadow I unite
In joyful bond, to seize the last of spring
I sing: it sets the moon to rock in time
I dance: my shadow cannot hold its place
Sober, we share companionship sublime
Drunk at last, we drift apart in space.
Lost to worldly things, until some day
We’ll meet again, beyond the Milky Way.”

by poet 李白 Li Bai (701-762) of the Tang Dynasty

白露 Bái Lù Indications

It is important to slow down and focus on self-nurturing, maintaining your inner peace, and safe guarding your emotional wellness during fall.

Jinling night quiet and cool breeze,
Alone up the tall buildings to look at Wu Yue,
White clouds reflect the water and shake the empty city,
And the white dew drops the autumn moon.”
“Moon under the moon in the West Tower of Jinling City” by poet 李白 Li Bai (701-762) of the Tang Dynasty


“The three months of autumn are the season for harvest. It is getting cooler and the wind is blowing stronger. The Qi of earth is clear and everything is changing color. Go to sleep when it is dark and get up at dawn, just like the rooster. Keep calm and relaxed and keep your vital energy in good balance. It will help you resist the adverse influence of the cold autumn air. That is the way to adapt to autumn and nurture the harvesting Qi. Violating it will result in injury to the lungs.”
–黃帝內經 Huangdi Neijing Su Wen

May you continue to balance and harmonize yourself as we transition into白露 Bái Lù: White Dew. Maintain your inner peace and enjoy the journey!

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