Tuesday, May 5, 2009
YESTERDAY, I reviewed Red Leaf Tea's 2008 Bai Mu Dan white tea, and found it to be very restrained, perhaps to a fault. As I wrote then, "Peony White is a white, unprocessed tea that is called bai mu dan in Chinese, and it is one grade lower than silver needle, bai hao yinzhen." The tea left me wondering about how drinking the 2009 would compare. because I'd be drinking it fresh.
Well, unfortunately, I don't have Red Leaf's 2009 to compare (yet), but I do have the Spring 2009 Green Hill Tea Silver Needle. This tea is very fresh, having just been plucked a couple weeks ago.
The Web site suggests boiling water, 3-7 minutes steeping time. I am going to use water at a slightly lower temperature, boiled then brought down to 70C, for 7 minutes, the first time I steep this tea. I do find the lower temperatures to be helpful with white teas. However, I will also make my second pot at a higher temperature for a shorter time, to see how the tea fares.
Silver Needle, or Bai Hao Yin Zhen (also called white beatitude), is a Chinese white tea that is created by plucking the most tender buds at the very first plucking of spring. White tea has become quite famous for its health properties, which are the enhanced by the fact that this tea is (relatively speaking) untouched: it's not fermented, not heavily oxidized, and so on.
Beautiful olive or forest green buds with fine silver hair, gives the tea a shimmering silvery quality. Upon steeping, the leaves become a lovely spring green, with very little aroma.
Pot 1, 70C for 7 minutes
This tea is a transparent, pale gold with a moderately strong green flavor and a very slight, drying astringency in the mouthfeel. The aroma is very faint. The tea is very clean and smooth, with a bright tone. I notice a very faint floral note very high up, perhaps being picked up by my nose more than by my mouth. The flavor is a very singular event, without much layering or complexity, and it does not develop over time, but rather maintaining a very consistent flavor profile throughout the experience.
Pot 2, 100C for 3 minutes
Using fresh leaves, I steeped this in a different way to see what would happen. Tea is all about science!
This tea has a strong first impression as it his the palate, and then becomes progressively quieter and quieter. Slight dryness to the mouthfeel, and a touch of earthiness to the sweetness. About five seconds after each sip, there's a rather floral note that rises up and catches my attention. It's pinging a memory chord that I just cannot isolate. What is that flavor?!
Quite a nice cup of tea. The white teas are a bit restrained for my palate, but nevertheless very pleasant, when I'm in the mood for something clean and subtle.
(The image, by the way, is of the Green Hill from the Sonic the Hedgehog video game. What can I say? It amused me.)