September 19, 2017

TeaVivre Fuding Shou Mei White 2012

The more popular Chinese white teas, I would argue, are bud heavy, whether all unopened buds as in Yinzhen/Silver Needle or a buds and small leaves as in Bai Mu Dan/White Peony. Shou Mei is a third  type of Chinese white tea and it's made from mature leaves. I didn't know this before re-reading the section on white tea in Joseph Uhl's The Art and Craft of Tea, but Shou Mei is considered the lowest grade of Chinese white tea. Luckily for us tea drinkers, TeaVivre has a very good Shou Mei in cake form. I received samples of the 2012 cake from the company this summer. Here are my notes on tea.

The dry leaves are mostly large in appearance and tobacco brown in color. Larger and darker leaves are interspersed throughout as are silver buds. The leaves smelled like paper and dried grass. The sample I annotated for my review was 9.15 grams. I prepared a 3-gram piece and a 6-gram piece separately. For the smaller piece I steeped it in 200F water for 3, 3, 4, and 5 minutes. The liquor of the first infusion was pale gold and tasted like the smell of freshly pressed linen or cotton. The tea was mild in flavor and in body.The second 3 minute infusion produced a honey-colored liquor that taste like honey, flowers, hay, and cloth-bound books. The floral and honey sweet notes reminded me of an oolong. The tea was thicker in body, too. I used too much water for the third infusion (4 minutes). The final infusion (5 minutes) had a hint of sweetness of stale dates.

Using a more leaf, less water, and shorter infusion times yielded the better experience with this tea. I infused the 6-gram subsample in 200F water starting at 1 minute and adding 30 seconds for each subsequent steep until 3 minutes to which I added 2 minutes for the final steep. After infusing the leaves the first time I smelled roasted and burned sugar notes. The liquor was sweet grass, freshly ironed cotton, paper, and creamy tail note. The second infusion was medium-bodied and viscous as it slipped over my tongue. Sweet notes of hay, paper, and nuts lingered on my palate. The third infusion (2 minutes) was fantastic! The tea was sweet and thick with notes of warm hay and linen. A creamy texture lingered and there was a fruity tail note, though I can't tell you what fruit. The liquor from the fourth infusion tasted like a mild dian hong and this smooth, creamy, and cocoa profile carried over into the next two infusion and were joined by a bright, red fruit flavor. The final infusion was a wash.

Bud only and bud + two leaves plucking styles get a lot of glory in the tea world but you won't be disappointed with this mature leaf white tea.

Two samples of Fuding Shou Mei White 2012 were provided by TeaVivre.

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