Earlier, I reviewed a charcoal baked shou mei from 2013. The idea of using charcoal to dry the tea leaves sounded fascinated to me. Thinking about it, before the electric heater this is what tea makers traditionally used. While sun drying is also a common method for white tea, it is possible only weather allowing. Hence applying low heat for drying teas has been a common method. I have not heard of it, because it is not as common as before. But I found this boutique farmer who learned processing white tea in his teens and now he is still applying the traditional methods for 40 years.
This tea and 2013 tea did not strike me as elegant at first. But after today I have noticed that actually I am tasting the charcoal and it is something I am not used to while drinking white tea. With that in mind, I did not think about astringency at all. I enjoyed the oolong like charcoal aromas which added to the multi layered complex flavours of this tea.
The tea is advertised with a name ‘wild rose’. The tea trees are scattered in the wild, that’s the wild part. Rose is more to the with the taste. I also thought that this tea was rich in floral notes but rose did not occur to me as the obvious one. However, the dry leaves were a joy to smell. It was like a candy, with a warm sweetness. I found it hilarious that the farmer’s son, who is managing the business, compared this tea with a 90ies Hong Kong actress called Cherie Chung: Although the appearance is pretty, the smile is full sweetness as is this tea.
Origin: Taxiacun, Nanjing County, Zhangzhou, Fujian
Harvest time: Spring 2018
Leaf colour: Tones of green and brown with some visible white fuzz
Liquor colour: Honey
Tea Aroma: Charcoal and sweet candy
Tea taste: Slightly sweet with a roasted nut finish
Steeping/brewing: Place 5g in 100ml of water at 100ºC and rinse after 5 seconds. This key to steeping this tea right is to avoid oversteeping it. For the first infusion, steep for 5 seconds with an additional 5 seconds for the subsequent infusions. You can re-steep this tea multiple times.
Shelf life: Can be aged