(5g ball in 120ml gaiwan, 205 F, 10 second first infusion, 10 total steeps)
This was an odd brewing session. I have no experience with white teas, so I have no idea how these “dragon pearls” compare to any other form/variety of Silver Needle.
The dry leaf was very fragrant; wildflower or dandelion-type floral, lightly fruity like melon or white peach. Wet leaf added an aroma of cooked fruit – a little earthy/toasty. Oddly, the liquor itself had no aroma on the first steep. Very pale yellow first infusion (10 sec), lots of fine, downy hairs floating throughout. The taste is light & delicate, but there’s some honey sweetness and a sense of sweet cucumber or honeydew melon. As it cools I can pick up some hay/straw, a little corn. Tickle in back of throat – from the tea hairs, I assume. Second steep (15 sec) is similar but more intense. This brew has straw aroma as well as flavor (smells like a hayride), and the throat tickle is even more present, giving the feeling that I am literally drinking dry straw. Steep three (20 sec) leaves a sweeter aroma on the gaiwan lid, and the tea liquor has a stronger aroma of earthy fruit and dandelion floral. Steep four (25 sec) adds an aroma of pine, and there is a lightly sweet cooling aftertaste, but the fruit and floral sweetness is receding. Fifth & sixth steeps (35, 45 sec) continue the dry grass taste with stronger pine/resin flavor and cooling aftertaste. Any fruit and floral are pretty much gone. Steeps 7-10 (1 min, 75 sec, 2 min, 3 min) are just like drinking hay with a pine resin cooling aftertaste – steady flavors but no additional layers, and not enjoyable once the fruit and wildflower notes are gone.
Perhaps more flavors would have been revealed if I kept pushing, as the taste was still quite strong at 10th steep. But the experience became unpleasant, so I had no interest in going any further. The throat tickle (irritation is probably too strong a description) stayed throughout, and eventually I started to feel like I was somehow drinking a light allergic reaction to hay grasses.
I only really enjoyed the first three infusions, and it was pretty much downhill after that.