My dear friend gifted me this shou mei cake, and I’ll treasure it and age it as many years as I can.
The next day I received it, I tried it. It is the end of the summer, and it was a sunny day. I thought that it was perfect for a white tea. I was right!
Shou Mei (also Gong Mei) is referred to eyebrow teas (literal translation of Mei from Mandarin), and they are new-style leaf white teas. They were created by entrepreneurs who wanted to make white tea more affordable and accessible. The traditional ‘bud only’ white teas can fetch considerably high prices as they cannot be produced at very high amounts. The new style leaf white teas are usually withered outdoors under a shade and indoors with cool air like traditional white teas. But they also go through an additional process which is bake-drying, and it is to get rid of the moisture content (which is higher in leaves and buds). This is a quick step to prevent the leaf from undergoing enzymatic changes.
This tea started with expected tastes and aromas. It was OK but nothing extraordinary. After the fourth steeping, I began to taste a lot of complexity. Some aromatic and delicate notes which I am familiar from good sheng pu-erh were there. This really surprised and excited me. I may have a real treasure indeed!
Source: Mary Lou Heiss. “The Story of Tea.”
Type: White Origin: Zenghe, Fujian
Harvest time: 2015
Leaf colour: Tones of brown, dark red with some silvery buds
Liquor colour: Dark yellow Tea Aroma: Woody and floral Tea taste: Slightly sweet with faint floral notes that turn into deeper and complexer flavours and aromas after the 4th steeping. Reminiscent of a good young sheng pu-erh Steeping: Place 5 g of tea leaves in a gaiwan/teapot. Add 100 ml water at about 90°C. Steep for 5 seconds and rinse the liquid out. Steep for 15 seconds. To each consecutive infusion add 10 seconds. You can infuse up to 7 times or until the taste is lost.
Shelf life: Can be aged