On day 18 of this challenge, I wrote about a shou mei white tea cake from 2015. It offered a nice spicy and nutty tones which I loved. Read more here. This shou mei was made into a ball and was 3 years older than the one I tried earlier. The experience was very different, and I thought that the underlying reasons could be various. This tea had a higher number of stems and its leaves were considerably tougher than any other Fuding white tea I had tried. This could be because of the picking time. However, its effect on the taste was significant. While I could still taste some sweetness, it was minimal compared to the shou mei I tried on Day 18.
The liquor colour was light amber and darker than this one which is in-line with its age. It offered nice fruity aroma and taste, however, it was not as complex as I would expect from a Fuding of that age.
I once have heard that the Chinese would only buy loose-leaf teas except for pu-erh tea. Because only by looking at the loose leaves, they could judge the quality of the tea. I do understand this as especially mini cakes/balls do not offer a uniform and high-quality tasting profile. However, I am sure there are exceptions. When I buy white tea, first I’d try it and see if I like it. Secondly, I look for silver-coloured buds and leaves with fuzz which was absent in this shou mei.
Enjoy your cuppa!
Origin: Fuding county, Fujian province
Harvest time: 2012
Leave colour: Green and brown leaves and stems
Liquor colour: Light amber
Tea aroma: Fruity
Tea taste: Slightly sweet with fruity 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.