Tuesday, July 14, 2009

REVIEW: Earthbound Tea, White Mu Dan Peony

As I peruse my own writing on the subject, I find the oft-repeated thought that the white teas I drink typically are too light for my tastes and not complex enough to engage my interest. Well, that observation holds true yet again, this time with Earthbound Tea's White Mu Dan Peony.

For those new to the subject, a very quick overview: Bai Mu Dan is a grade of Chinese white tea. Now, every tea plant goes through the budding stage in early Spring (typically between March 15 and April 10), which makes marketing this type of tea very attractive to marketers, because white teas are experiencing something of a boom, with much interest in their health benefits. I won't examine health claims here, except to say it's probably good for you.

I prepared the tea according to Earthbound's directions: 75C, 5 min+, using Great-Great-Grandmother's Japanese porcelain teapot. It's a bit thicker-walled than is useful for this type of tea, so I did leave the top off the pot to help it cool a touch, even though I fear that it lost a small amount of its already minimal aroma.

The Earthbound Tea Web site reads:

White Mu Dan Peony or "White Peony" is a rare tea that comes from the Fujian province in China. Only the tips and the beginning of the first two leaves are plucked. When infused, this tea has a unique nutty flavor that is mild and sweet.

Unfortunately, the leaves were rather damaged in transit, smashed into smallish pieces. I expect this would have an effect on the end product.

Pale, pale aroma and flavor. Yes, the characteristic peony aroma is present in my mouth, and the huigan [sweet aftertaste] is pleasant enough. But there's not enough there, there. I do wonder if the tea hadn't suffered so much in the mail service, if it would have tasted better in the cup. That being said, because I want as much depth and complexity of flavor as I can find in a cup, this is simply not enough to command my attention. However, if you value a very light, clean, lightly floral, airy cup of tea, this might just do the trick for you.

White Peony image above, by Teresa Boston.