Shou Mei 2016
Wrapped in colourful foil, one might mistake these marble-sized balls for truffles; but peeling the wrapper instead reveals a dense sphere of large white tea leaves. At five grams each, they are the right size for a single serving—drop one in a large teapot or gaiwan, and watch it slowly unfurl over several minutes or infusions. The tightly-packed pearls release their aromas gradually, developing from a mild, slightly creamy flavour to intense bouquets of dried fruit. As with other white teas, the flavours will deepen with age, becoming less fresh and more rich.
For a larger bar of compressed white tea, try our Gong Mei 2013.
- ORIGIN: Panxi, Fuding, Ningde, Fujian, China
- MEANING: Longevity Eyebrow (shou mei)
- CULTIVAR: Fuding Da Bai Hao
- HARVEST TIME: Spring 2016
- TASTE: cream, mineral, dried fig
Among the six tea classes, white tea is the easiest to described, but not the least difficult to produce. The fresh leaves are withered outdoor in the shadow and indoor in rooms with good air circulation. The leaves usually air-dry naturally, although sometimes baking is required to completely remove the moisture. Especially in the Yunnan province, some white teas are sun-dried instead.
Green tea is different than white tea. Green tea is scalded right after the harvest to prevent oxidation. White tea oxidizes during withering and is not heat-treated to stop oxidation. The different processing of white tea results in a delicate liquor, with none of the astringency and grassy undertones typical of green tea.