I always feel so refreshed after a visit to the zoo, and yesterday was no exception! Ben and I chanced going on the weekend, usually we go during the week to avoid the much loathed crowds, but going at open means we missed most of the crowds. The real highlight of this visit was an ibis, at the Australian Bird Enclosure (it is a giant free-range bird cage where you can interact with a bunch of birds, I LOVE it, plus it is sentimental since that is where Ben proposed last year) there was a fairly young ibis that was the friendliest. It followed us around examining our clothes, pockets, shoes, my hair with its enormous beak. Sometimes birds are pretty rough with their beaks, but this ibis was gentle, just tickling as it for lack of a better word groomed us. It was the best thing ever!
Today I am taking a look at Green Tea Guru’s 2014 ‘Shixiang’ Fuding White Tea Cake, a compressed Bai Mu Dan with a little bit of age on it, and that little bit of age makes quite the difference. White tea has this habit of becoming immensely sweet as it ages, which is pretty amazing when you consider how sweet it already is. From the aroma of the compressed leaves (which are really quite pretty) it is a great blend of notes from an aged white and a fresh white, strong notes of honey and sun warmed hay blend with sweet grapes, crisp melons, gourds, wildflower pollen. and a finish of book pages. It is one of my favorite notes present in Bai Mu Dan, it smells like a novel, not an ancient leatherbound book, but one of those paperback novels found at a used book store and lovingly carried around in a coat pocket to read in dull moments. Yes it triggers very specific memories.
I decided to use my aged white clay pot for brewing this tea, still one of my favorite clay pot thrift store finds! I didn’t brew the whole chunk from the photo, but you could think that I did when you see how fluffy the wet leaves are now that they are not compressed. The aroma is very sweet, pollen loaded raw honey with juicy fresh green grapes blend with mild cucumber and melon with a finish of fresh hay. The liquid’s aroma is wonderfully sweet with strong notes of raw honey and melon with a gentle accompaniment of slightly woody gourds and wildflowers.
Woo, that first steep is a doozy! Thick mouthfeel that coats all of my mouth with honey sweetness! The color of the liquid is golden, but it also tastes golden, with sun warmed scuppernongs, honey, hay, and just warm sunlight. That last one is more of a sensation combining the color and taste, but you know, it works. At the finish there is a lingering gentle melon that stays into the aftertaste for a while, it sticks around in the mouth a long time after the tea is done.
The aroma of the second steep is super sweet, the previous steep’s woody gourd note has vanished to only have wildflowers, pollen, grapes, and wonderful raw honey. Well, it is not a surprise that this steep is thick and sweet, but it managing to be sweeter is impressive! It is very much like someone took melon and grapes and poured melted honey all over it, super decadent and delicious. The finish is a gentle hay and grape note that lingers for a while.
For the third steep the aroma stays pretty much the same, somehow the honey is stronger and the wildflowers fresher, but the notes stay the same. Not the same with the taste, oh there is still the strong raw honey and grapes, but there is a distant note of oregano that adds a depth and crispness. This tea has longevity, lasting many more steeps, and amusingly it seems to reverse in age with steeps where later steeps pick up crisp notes of lettuce and cucumber coolness. I really enjoyed this tea and was a bit sad when I saw the full cake is sold out on the website!