(If you don’t want to read my thoughts, skip down to the last three paragraphs for flavor notes.)
I’m under the impression that most of us in the West have yet to experience really good white tea. For whatever reason, white teas just aren’t popular outside the Chinese cultural realm. And Westerners who practice gongfu-stlyle tea drinking gravitate towards oolong, black, pu’er, and green teas.
White tea is comparatively more subtle, which requires more attention from the tea drinker to appreciate its nuances. You’d be hard pressed enough patience in a post-modern Western society to generate a market for something as soft-spoken as authentic Fujian white tea.
I think of white tea as naked tea. It cannot impress with flavor and aroma alone like, say, an Assam black tea or Taiwanese high mountain oolong. Therefore, leaf quality and skilled processing will have to speak for themselves – which my fellow sheng pu’er drinkers understand can be expressed via: mouthfeel, aftertaste, sensations (cooling/tingling/silky), viscosity, qi, and throat / body feel.
Cindy emphasized the strength of this tea, and I can see why. I haven’t had a white tea like this before. This tea has all of the above, including strong aroma (ripened peach and pear and fresh chamomile flowers) and subtle, sophisticated flavors (Korean pear, chamomile, sweet grass, raw sugar cane juice, and a hint of nutmeg).
What’s really incredible about this tea is it’s very strong mouthfeel, which combined with qi will take the drinker for a nice euphoric ride. The leaves are quite green and non-uniform compared with regular silver needle – which to me makes them more attractive.
I drank this at work with a tumbler and at home using a gaiwan. Maybe my office’s water filter was recently switched, but I enjoyed my office session a lot more. I had to actually step away from drinking it because the combo of qi and mouthfeel was so intense. It made the world stop for a moment.