September 23, 2007

Tea-of-the-morning: Teance White Peony

Last Wednesday I went to a local grocer to purchase a few items. On the way to the yogurt section I stopped at a tea sample table hosted by Tracy Paulding of Teance. The Teance tea room is located off 4th Street in West Berkeley.

I sampled the Green Jasmine in a biodegradable serving cup though the teas were prepared in porcelain gaiwan. Despite the small amount, I enjoyed the Green Jasmine, though I failed to record any tasting notes. I do remember a smooth vegetal taste and warm grass aroma. I guess there must have been a floral - jasmine - aroma as well.



I received a White Peony sample of a new product, the FreeLeaf. Here is the description from the Teance website:
In a hurry? No time to steep or drink that refreshing pot of tea? FreeLeaf™ makes perfect whole leaf tea on-the-go. Place a tea bouquet in your thermos or commuter cup, add hot water, and it’s as simple as that.

White Peony FreeLeaf


I steeped the sample this morning to drink as I read the Sunday papers. I warmed my teapot with almost boiling water then added the FreeLeaf bouquet and the remainder of almost boiling water. I poured the tea at 1 minute, 4 minutes, 8 minutes, 14 minutes, and 17 minutes.



1 minute: There was no discernible taste or aroma. The steep was a very light green color.



4 minutes: I detected a slight floral taste, but having no experience eating or drinking peony I could not positively identify the taste as such. The steep had deepened in color. Also, the bouquet had expanded and the liquid in the teapot was a moss green.



8 minutes: The steep exhibited a yellow-brown color, a raw rice smell, and a more complex taste. I no longer detected a floral note but the end note reminded me of the taste of a California grape leaf: sharp and tart.



14 minutes: The steep was golden yellow and had achieved a full-mouth taste. The aroma and taste of raw rice was still detectable as were new smells and tastes - of soba noodles and steamed brown rice. The final pour was made three minutes later. A slight floral aroma had returned. In addition, a floral end note alternated with the sharp tartness exhibited at minute 8.

Overall, I enjoyed the tea, but I prefer the immediate bold flavors and aromas of teas like Assam, Puer, and Lapsang. It was my first experience steeping and drinking a white tea, so it is possible that I incorrectly prepared the tea. I would like to try again, possibly with a gaiwan. Finally, the tea became more complex with time; it was the most flavorful after 8 minutes thus living up to its description as a commuter tea.

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