This is the first white tea I have had in a long time. Normally, I stick with traditional Chinese white teas, but when I saw this white Darjeeling from The Tao of Tea, I could not pass on it. I love Darjeeling teas and really wanted to try something new, so I was more than a little intrigued by a white Darjeeling. Fortunately, this curiosity purchase was well worth it.
When it came to preparing this tea, I was a little unsure how to proceed. In the end, I opted to brew this tea gongfu style. I know that some people would raise an eyebrow at the idea of preparing a non-Chinese tea gongfu style, but I did this for two reasons that seemed solid enough to me. First, I had never brewed a white tea gongfu style prior to this, so I wanted to see how it went. Secondly, I thought brewing a tea like this gongfu style might focus the aromas and flavors more than a Western preparation. After a brief rinse, I steeped approximately 5-6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 170 F water. I followed this initial infusion with 6 subsequent infusions with an increase of 5 seconds per infusion (15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 seconds).
In terms of both aroma and flavor, the first infusion was very strong. I detected a faintly grassy, herbal aroma underscoring more pronounced scents of Muscat grape, white peach, apricot, cream, oats, fresh flowers, and mild spice (somewhat reminiscent of nutmeg). On the palate, there were well-integrated notes of apricot, white peach, Muscat grape, honeydew, cream, honey, nectar, butter, oats, and nutmeg, with hints of grass, hay, and herbs on the finish. The next two infusions offered more of the same, but with way more balance. I definitely noticed a subtle increase in the strength of the grass, hay, and herb aromas and flavors. The final four infusions saw the tea moving away from its pronounced fruity and floral character toward alternately creamier, grassier, and more herbal aromas and flavors. From the third steep on, I also noticed a subtle minerality begin to emerge. It grew a little stronger with each subsequent infusion, but never really dominated the nose or palate. Instead, it was always underscored by traces of most of the other aromas and flavors.
To be perfectly honest, I could probably have gotten at least 1-2 more infusions out of this tea, but opted to cut my session a little short. I could see the direction the tea was headed and felt confident that it did not hold any surprises for me at that point. I like this one. As a matter of fact, I really like this one. It has some of the fruitiness of a Darjeeling, but it also displays the subtlety and depth of a good Chinese white tea. I can honestly say that it kind of reminded me a little bit of the more familiar Silver Needle white teas from China, but with more sweetness and a more fruit forward character. If you are a fan of white teas and want to try something a little bit different, I think this tea could really hit the spot.
Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Cream, Floral, Grass, Hay, Herbs, Honey, Honeydew, Mineral, Muscatel, Nectar, Nutmeg, Oats, Peach