I have already written about the magnificent Fuding white teas (Baihao Yinzhen and Bai Mudan) and mentioned how subtle and elegant their flavours are. With Shou Mei, we perhaps have less elegance but definitely punchier flavours. Shou Mei’s literal translation from Chinese is ‘Old Man’s Eyebrow’ but it is mostly referred to as ‘Longevity Eyebrow’ tea.
This tea was made into a mini cake, which suggests that it is suitable for ageing like other good white teas. Indeed, Shou Mei does age well and passing years make its taste sweeter and deeper while its liquor gets darker.
It does look categorically different than Baihao Yinzhen and Bai Mudan even in its loose form as it has more colours and bigger leaves. Shou Mei’s liquid is also darker than other white teas which signify that its oxidation level was higher. It is basically a by-product of Baihao Yinzhen as it is made out of left-over leaves that remain following the peeling off the buds from the plucked leaves.
I had this tea on a warm day, and it helped me cool off. It also pleasantly surprised me with its bold spicy notes of nutmeg and cinnamon.
If you are on a tight budget and want white tea’s amazing health benefits, give Shou Mei a chance! Even if you do not like it immediately, you may do in the years to come!
Origin: Ningde city, Fuding county, Fujian province
Harvest time: Spring 2015
Leave colour: Dark green and brown leaves and stems with sporadic silver fuzz
Liquor colour: Light amber
Tea aroma: Fruity
Tea taste: Sweet with spicy and nutty undertones
Steeping/brewing: You can use around 100°C water temperature (yes don’t be afraid) and brew for up to one minute in gongfu style or up to three minutes in Western-style. You can brew the leaves many times (until the taste is lost). To each infusion add additional time. Experiment for a result that suits your taste.
Shelf life: Up to 10 years or more if aged appropriately.