This Moonlight White is listed by Bana as a raw pu-erh, but if you were to just walk up to this sitting on a counter unlabeled, you might easily mistake it for a white tea. Some further research has led me to find that this tea is classified by some as a white tea and others as pu-erh. I’m intrigued. Bana’s steeping suggestions are to brew it like a pu-erh rather than a white tea, so that is what I did.
I filled my gaiwan half full with the leaf, which took about 3.5 g per 100 ml of water. After an initial quick rinse (I tasted the rinse just to be sure I wasn’t missing anything, and I wasn’t) the first steep was for 5 seconds. I’m brewing at 203F with the gaiwan lid off. This yielded a very light almost clear brew that smelled like cinnamon, tasted creamy and buttery as hell and if I had to compare it to another drink I’d say it was like drinking horchata. Wild!
Increasing 5 more seconds each time, a couple more steeps in the cinnamon sugar scent is still there, the creamy, buttery flavors are still there and there are subtle notes of fruit, perhaps honeydew or nectarine. The tea has a cooling feeling on my tongue and leaves it coated with a very silky mouthfeel that lingers long after I’ve finished a sip. As the steeps get later, I begin to increase by 30 seconds. The liquor becomes more yellow and with every new cup the light flavor of this tea greets me again offering generously buttery flavor with a hint of spice. The aroma of fruit and spice is intoxicating. The silky mouthfeel becomes a bit more of a dry mouthfeel after more steepings, but it doesn’t feel unpleasant.
By the 5th infusion the fruity aroma is much more prominent and I’m tasting it more too. It’s definitely more on the side of honeydew than it was before. There’s a faint maltiness that is so gentle and the cream and butter are still churning out generously. What reminded me of cinnamon and spice is gone now. The flavor seems to reached somewhat of a plateau by the 6th steeping and onward, as I add a minute to each steep to ensure I am milking the leaves enough for a full brew, but it never comes off as weak, lacking, or anything but rich and full (yet impossibly light for such a full taste).
By steeping 8, I’m surprised again! The brew is darker and the aroma and flavor are very obviously of amaretto! “What in the world!?” I’m thinking. It’s still buttery, too!
Steeping 9 and on seem to be getting more astringent and not quite as drinkable, so I think I’m done with this tea here, but what a great journey that was!
This tea’s flavor is delicate, yet full-bodied. It’s got a nice consistent creamy quality to it, for the most part, so you’ve got to listen hard if you want to note the changes from one steep to the next. For the most part, the changes are not as obvious as with an oolong or some other pu-ehrs, but if you give this tea the quiet space it deserves (perhaps enjoy it under moonlight), the spirit it shows you is just sublime.
Flavors: Butter, Cinnamon, Cream, Melon, Nuts