I seem to vaguely recall promising myself that I would review more white teas this year despite white tea not exactly being one of my things. With that in mind, I have been taking the time to drink more white tea and I’m starting to come around a little bit. I doubt it will ever be my favorite type of tea (oolong has my heart forever), but I’m beginning to appreciate it more. The white teas I have been purchasing from Yunnan Sourcing have had a lot to do with my recent reappraisal of white tea as a category. This tea, in particular, was breathtaking.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. At first, I was not quite sure what water temperature to use. Yunnan Sourcing recommended a water temperature around 185 F, but that seemed a little high to me as I tend to use similar water temperatures for both green and white teas, rarely going over 180 F. I recalled using 180 F water for silver needles in the past, so that is what I went with here. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea buds in 4 ounces of 180 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 17 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea buds emitted pleasant aromas of hay, grass, eucalyptus, and sugarcane. After the rinse, I found emerging scents of straw, wood, and lemon. The first infusion then introduced hints of tree bark and spice to the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered pleasant notes of hay, grass, straw, eucalyptus, sugarcane, and wood balanced by notes of cream, oats, and butter. Hints of lemon and cinnamon then came out on the swallow. Subsequent infusions saw the nose begin to become fruitier and more savory with aromas of lychee, oats, butter, and cream emerging. Naturally, I began to note much stronger notes of oats, butter, and cream in the mouth while notes of tree bark belatedly emerged alongside mineral, dew, vanilla, lychee, wheat toast, thyme, fennel, basil, malt, chamomile, peach, and cantaloupe impressions. I could also just barely pick up hints of watermelon and wintergreen oil in places. The lengthier series of infusions that closed out my session presented surprisingly persistent notes of cream, butter, minerals, wheat toast, hay, watermelon, sugarcane, and cantaloupe underscored by subtle touches of fennel, lychee, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and peach.
Since I have already admitted that white tea is generally not one of my things, I should also go ahead and confess that I have never been fond of silver needles in the least. They usually seem bland to me. That was not the case with this tea. It had a lot to offer, revealing tons of depth and complexity as the session progressed. A truly exquisite tea all around, I will definitely be acquiring some of this year’s harvest for the sake of comparison. If this year’s offering is anything like the spring 2017 offering, I have a feeling that this tea will become a yearly purchase for me.
Flavors: Bark, Butter, Cantaloupe, Cinnamon, Cream, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Grass, Hay, Herbs, Lemon, Lychee, Malt, Melon, Mineral, Oats, Peach, Straw, Sugarcane, Thyme, Toast, Vanilla, Wheat, Wood