T2 White tea selection

So I live round the corner from a T2 shop (bye bye money). I had never tried their offerings until recently but they were recommended and I love their infuser mugs (see my earlier review of the mug).

Now I love white tea and I was out of white tea so I bought a selection of teas I already know I like.

Below is the white Jasmine tea (yin zhen leaves though it doesn’t say on the pack), Pai Mu Dan (also called Bai Mu Dan or White peony tea) and White monkey Jasmine.

I have never tried white monkey jasmine tea but I like white tea and white Jasmine teas so I assumed I’d like this one as well.

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White Jasmine

The leaves have the appearance of Yin Zhen silver needle tea. They are not the best quality I have seen, they don’t have much “fur” on the leaves a good sign of good quality Yin Zhen.

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A good quality white tea will not turn too yellow in colour when brewed. This white tea has a good colour when brewed.

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Brewing parameters: 80 degrees for 2-3 minutes

My brewing parameters: 80 degrees for 2 minutes

Taste: Strong aroma of Jasmine, very strong flavour too. Not the most delicate tea as the Jasmine overpowers the aroma of the white tea a little.

Subsequent infusions: The first infusion is a bit strong for my liking but this tea really stands up well to repeated infusions. The Jasmine flavour gets weaker each time and I think the third infusion is my favourite. I have been taking this one to work and putting two teaspoons in the infuser basket and using the same leaves all day. The most infusions I have tried is five but I think I could have got one or two more out of the leaves though by this point the Jasmine aroma was nearly gone.

 

Pai Mu Dan

Note: Because of the difficulty in transcribing Chinese words into the Roman alphabet it is common for there to be variations in spelling when it comes to Chinese words in English, a common on is the same sound being transcribed by some people with a “p” and by others with a “b”. Pai Mu Dan is also referred to Bai Mu Dan or white peony tea.

The leaves have the appearance of any other Bai Mu Dan I have drunk. which is a good start, a few more oxidized (brown) leaves than ideal but it still looks fine.

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This Pai Mu Dan is a lot darker than others I have tried. Generally the better quality ones are paler in colour.

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Brewing parameters: 4-6 minutes at 80 degrees (176 fahrenheit)

My brewing parameters: 3 minutes at 80 degrees (176 fahrenheit)

Taste: Not as fruity as other Bai mu dan’s I have tried before.

White monkey Jasmine

From the moment you open the packet there is a delicate, but not overpowering Jasmine aroma.

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This is quite pale for a white tea but the cup it is in doesn’t make this clear (I should probably stop using a green cup for the pictures but it’s pretty).

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Brewing parameters: 80 degrees 1-3 minutes

My brewing parameters 80 degrees 2 minutes

Taste: This is more balanced and smoother than the other T2 white Jasmine. It is milder but the flavour of the white tea is balanced well with the Jasmine and the fruity aftertaste of the white tea itself is present.

Subsequent infusions: The Jasmine fades quite a lot after the third infusion but the white tea itself is a mellow fruity tea.

Conclusion

The only one of these I would buy again is the White Monkey Jasmine. I really enjoyed it and will probably get more when this one runs out.

The White Jasmine and the Pai Mu Dan were OK teas but I have had better quality at cheaper price points, the white Jasmine from curious tea is £10 for 50g while T2 charges £12.00 and the Bai Mu Dan from Bruu, the gourmet tea subscription club is far more to my liking than T2’s white Pai Mu Dan and at £5.95 for 50g  compared to the £13 for 50g T2 charges it is obvious which one I would choose.

T2’s white teas are not bad but it is possible to find better quality for cheaper online. Part of the price discrepancy will be the fact that T2 is a physical chain of stores while most of my tea vendors are online only which would keep their costs lower meaning they can sell their product cheaper. However, while I love T2’s selection of tea ware I don’t think I will be a regular customer as far as their loose leaf tea goes.

Gong fu brewing (Chinese tea ceremony)

Gong fu cha literally means making tea with skill or great effort. It sometimes called Kung fu instead but given that in the western mind the words Kung fu are associated with a physical martial art Gong fu is often preferred when talking about the tea ceremony.

This post should be quite a long one as I shall go into detail about gong fu cha assuming you as a reader know nothing about it.

This post is not aimed at experts or long term practitioners of gong fu cha (I am fairly new to it myself) more at demystifying the practice for those who have interest but are intimidated by all the different equipment needed and unsure what is necessary and what is optional.

I hope the below post will give a simple practical explanation of all the equipment used in gong fu cha and how to use it.

I have researched gong fu cha for a while but I only tried it for the first time last week. We shall walk through my first attempt together (interspersed with explanations) and hopefully by the end you will feel more confident about trying it yourself (and hopefully make less of a mess than I did).

Equipment

  1. Brewing vesselBasically a vessel that you put the tea leaves and hot water (or cold if cold brewing) in to brew the tea.

    The most common types are either a tea pot or a gaiwan.

    Western readers will already be familiar with how a tea pot works. The difference between normal tea pots and gong fu cha tea pots is that the tea pots for gong fu cha are tiny (usually only able to hold a volume between 100-200ml/ 3.5- 7 fl oz of water).

    The tea pot is usually made of one of the so called “four famous styles” of Chinese pottery. Yixing, Jian Shui, Rong Chang and Qin Zhou. These pots are unglazed which means that the pots absorb the aroma and the flavour of the tea placed into them. This leads to a more flavourful liquor over time but also means each pot can be used for only one kind of tea. Someone who uses these pots and drinks a lot of tea may have a pot for pu-erh, a pot for heavy roasted oolongs, a pot for light roasted oolongs and so on. It is possible to have porcelin or celadon tea pots as well.

    The other brewing vessel is something a Western reader may be less familiar with, and it is the vessel I have used for my gong fu ceremony and in the pictures below.

    A gaiwan is made up of three parts; the main body which resembles a cup, a lid, and the saucer the main body rests upon. The tea leaves are placed in the main vessel and water is added and swilled around with spilled tea being caught in the saucer, the lid can be used as a makeshift filter to keep in the tea leaves while the brewed tea is poured into a cha hai or a cup. It is also possible to drink tea directly out of the gaiwan using the vessel as a cup but there is a risk of over brewing the tea if you cannot drink fast enough (this is called grandpa style).

    The particular gaiwan I used has a volume of only 100ml/3.5 fl oz which is typical of gaiwan’s used in gong fu cha. This one is made of porcelain. Gaiwans are usually made of porcelin or glass although it possible to get gaiwans made of clay in one of the “four famous styles” I have already mentioned above. A porcelain gaiwan has two advantages over a clay tea pot; firstly, it can be used for any type of tea you can brew a pu-erh in a gaiwan and then rinse it out and brew a green tea without the previous brewing effecting the taste of the current one, secondly, price. A good quality clay tea pot can cost anywhere from £40/$50 to over £200/$250. A gaiwan of porcelain or glass costs between £8/$10- £20/$25 depending on quality, size and where you get it from.

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    My gaiwan has a poem written in calligraphy on the back of it.

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    If anyone else is interested I asked a friend of mine who is from Hong Kong to translate the poem for me. He explained it as follows (his words in italics);

    So, this poem was written by a prolific poet, painter, and politician in the Qing period. (In china, you tend to be all three together, or none of them at all) He is especially famous for paining pictures of bamboos, and this poem seems to be his comment on his trade.

    The first lines talked about how he have drew bamboos in 40 years (probably an exaggeration, we liked to do this quite a lot, but he is probably quite experienced when he wrote this poem)
    The second lines talked about how he drew: he drew in the day, but think about what how he draws during the night
    The third talked about the style: he tried to keep it simple, by removing the un-necessary part to keep it all beautiful and clean
    And the fourth line is probably the most philosophical: the basically said that he have drawn bamboos from youth, but he is probably talking more about him transforming from drawing bamboos in a realistic, and un-necessary way to drawing them to its most simple, clean, but powerful form.
    Literal translation is;I have drawn bamboos for forty years; Where I drew everyday and think about them every night; I eliminated all the unwieldy parts and kept it clean, slim, and beautiful; This is what I do when I starts to know my trade.

     

  2. Cha hai (jug)After brewing the tea is poured into this vessel to prevent over brewing of the liquor. The cha hai is then used to serve the tea by pouring it into the tea cups.

    This particular Cha hai is made of bluestone and has a volume of 175ml/6 fl oz. Due to the shape I find it quite easy to hold.

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  3. Strainer.Usually placed on top of the cha hai in order to filter out any loose tea leaves not caught by the lid of the gaiwan.

    This particular strainer is made of Celadon pottery and comes with a stand (see picture). To use I simply remove the strainer from the stand, rest it on top of the cha hai and pour the tea from the gaiwan into the cha hai through the strainer. Metal strainers are also common.

    If you use the lid of a gaiwan to catch most of the tea leaves a strainer is not mandatory but I find it makes the drinking experience more pleasant as it prevents little pieces of tea leaves from getting into the drink.

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  4. Tea cupUsed to drink the tea out of (obviously). Gong fu cha cups are often 50ml in volume as the idea is to savour the flavour of the tea rather than drink large amounts from any one brewing.

    The cup pictured is a tea cup with a porcelain emerald glaze. It is slightly larger at 75 ml/2.6 fl oz in volume but I used this one as it is my favourite. I love the little fish.

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    Fish in a pond of tea.

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  5. Cha he (presentation vessel)Essentially this is a dish to keep tea leaves in before they are used. Not always necessary but useful. I like to use it to photograph my tea leaves in for this blog before I use the leaves to make tea.

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  6. Tea pet (not mandatory)A small figure usually made of Yixing clay that is placed on the tea tray. Popular tea pets include Buddhas, pigs, toads and lotus pods. I have also seen rabbits, fish and pandas. My tea pet is a Jin Chan, a mythological creature also called a money toad.

    In Chinese mythology a Jin Chan would appear outside houses and business that would soon be blessed with wealth (note: the old style Chinese coins on the back of the Jin Chan, Chinese money used to have a hole in the middle and be kept on ropes as on the Jin Chan’s back) as such it is seen a charm to bring prosperity and riches (spoiler alert: it hasn’t worked yet).

    The tea pet “drinks” tea drops if you pour a few over the figure. Overtime it absorbs the aroma of tea and becomes glossier in appearance. This process can take months or years.

    Doing this is called “raising” a tea pet.

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  7. Tea tray or a bowlGong fu often involves a certain amount of spillage, some by design, some because many people (myself included) are clumsy, as gong fu involves moving the tea between several vessels. Traditionally the tea ware is placed on a gong fu tray which has small holes often in the shape of a picture or Chinese characters that the tea fall down into the deep tray beneath.

    Sadly I do not own a tea tray yet but if you are interested in what they look like here are some of my favourite tea ware sites linked to the tea tray sections;

    Tea Tables

    Handmade Tea Tray (ChaBan)

    Yunnan sourcing is a China based site (though there is a US based site if you are in the US as the majority of my readers seem to be according to the blogs stats page). The teaware on this site is comparatively cheap although some of the silver and clay teawares are still quite expensive.

    Path of Cha has my dream tea tray it has such a beautiful design while still being practical, sadly I can’t afford it but I may be asking for it for Christmas.

    If you do not own a proper gong fu tray you can still gong fu. A large bowl that the tea can be discarded into works almost as well. The tray I placed my gong fu equipment on is a tea tray that came with a glass tea set I own (which you may have seen on this blog) the tea set is designed for Western style brewing so I had cereal bowl at the side which I used to discard water when necessary. I still spilled water on the tray but it was deep enough not to matter too much.

    My set up

    So here is my final set up. It is not perfect as I have no tea tray but I have all the essentials, the gaiwan for a brewing vessel, the cha hai to serve the tea, the strainer to catch the leaves and the cup to drink from.

    Not pictured, the cha he presentation vessel and the bowl I used to discard water into.

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As gong fu cha is a Chinese discipline I chose a Chinese tea for my first attempt. Bi Lo Chun Snowflower is a white Chinese tea from Yunnan sourcing (see picture below). With gong fu it is common to use more tea than in Western brewing. While it may be usual when western brewing a white tea to use around 2g/0.07 oz of tea for a single cup of tea (generally using around 200-250ml/7-8.7 fl oz of water) Gongfu Cha you should use 5-6g /0.18-0.2 oz  even though the gaiwan often holds only 100ml/ 3.5 fl oz of water.

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Instructions for gong fu cha

This is one of the things it is easier to see than to do. I tried taking stationary pictures for a step by step guide (and made a mess and scorched my fingers) so video is a better medium.

The tea shop Path of Cha has an excellent video on this and they were generous enough to grant me permission to post it here.

This is my favourite video on the subject as it shows how to brew gong fu style in a simple way. You may want to watch the video slightly slowed down it is very fast paced.

Path of Cha also has one of my favourite tea blogs (if there is interest I may do a future post about my favourite 5 or 10 tea blogs) and goes into a lot of detail about different tea cultures especially Japanese and Chinese tea cultures.

https://pathofcha.com/blogs/all-about-tea

The different infusions of tea

This is my personal experience of the aroma and taste of the tea used in my gong fu attempt using one particular type of tea. Your experience will be different depending on what tea you choose.

The whole point of multiple infusions is to get as much flavour as you can out of a small amount of tea leaves by brewing multiple infusions with short intervals you really get the full profile of the tea in a way you do not with Western style brewing.

I noted down my impressions of each infusion.

10s- light and sweet

15s-light and sweet, slightly more floral than the first infusion

20s-slightly woody in profile

25s-very light, slight peach aroma

30s-lighter woody profile with a sweet fruity aftertaste

35s-sweet aftertaste after a rather bland initial flavour

40s-juicy and fruity with a peach after taste

45s-sweet, fruity, smooth

50s- sweet, fruity, smooth

To make a fair comparison I also brewed some of the Bi lo chun snowflower tea Western style at 80 degrees celsius/ 176 degrees fahrenheit for 4 minutes.

Western style the tea was smooth, initially it tasted a little woody but there was a peach aftertaste. I enjoyed the Western style liquor but I can see how I missed out on a lot of flavour profile when I compare my tasting notes for the western style tea to the tasting notes for my gong fu style tea.

What I learned/Tips

If using a porcelain or glass gaiwan do not overfill it. Make sure to only fill up to the flared part of the vessel that way you can hold the top of the vessel without burning your fingers on the hot porcelain or glass.

Don’t rush to pour the tea from the gaiwan into the cha hai or you will burn your fingers (ask me how I know).

If you are doing the gong fu cha alone (as I did) No one can drink that much tea (and I tried). Instead try filling the gaiwan half the way up so you get one cup per brewing instead of two (remember to adjust the amount of tea leaves used if you use half the water use half the tea leaves when you fill the gaiwan or the tea will over brew).

 

 

Rare Ceylon silver tips

This is a white tea from Sri-Lanka (Sri-Lanka used to be part of the British empire and when it was it was called Ceylon this is why even though the country name changed tea imported from Sri-Lanka is often referred to as Ceylon tea.

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When I take it out of the packet the tea resembles high quality Yin Zhen there is noticeable “fur” on the leaves as in all high quality silver needle style teas.

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When brewed it produces a pale yellow liquor typical of good quality white teas, a good quality white tea will not produce a liquor that is too “yellow”.

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Brewing method: 70 degrees for 3-4 minutes

My brewing method: 70 degrees for 4 minutes

Taste: Fruity and sweet like many white teas with a delicate honey aroma. Not quite as fruity as Chinese white teas such as Bai mu dan but it is quite close in flavour to Yin Zhen though the flavour is slightly stronger and less subtle. Just as good as Chinese Yin Zhen in my opinion. Though not a cheap version as it is actually slightly more expensive than the Yin Zhen.

Subsequent infusions: According to the packaging the leaves can be infused once more however I was dissapointed by the second infusion as it was lacking in flavour compared to the first.

Conclusion: A very enjoyable tea. I prefer the taste of Ceylon silver tips to Yin Zhen but only just, it was a hard decision. Though as the Ceylon tea is more expensive than Yin Zhen and can only be used for one resteeping which is not so good as the initial brewing while Yin Zhen can be infused several times the Chinese Yin Zhen is of better value. However if taste is more important to you than value I would recommend trying this tea.

Recommended if you like: Yin Zhen, white teas in general.

Ya bao silver buds and Ya bao purple buds: a comparison.

Ya bao silver buds and Ya bao purple buds are both white teas comprised on sun dried buds. Ya bao silver buds is one of my favourite white teas (after bai mu dan, Yin Zhen Jasmine and Yin Zhen). I have never had purple buds before but I had a sample pack in my tea box and I saw a post on the r/tea subreddit about purple buds and some people (including me) wanted to know the difference. So here we go.

The packaging is virtually the same for both teas as for comparison I got them from the same seller. The teas are also from the same place Dehong, Yunnan, China.

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Silver buds, as the name suggests resemble silver buds.

 

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When brewed Ya bao silver buds tea has little colour to it and looks almost exactly the same as a mug of hot water. The picture below is the tea after I removed the silver buds which had been in the brewing basket for 4 minutes.

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Brewing method: 90 degrees, 3-4 minutes

My brewing method: 90 degrees for 4 minutes.

Taste: A white tea with a subtle woody profile. It tastes a little like pu-erh except lighter.

Subsequent infusions: There is little change in the taste profile of this tea for the second and third infusions. The taste is pretty consistent and I got four infusions (including the initial one) out of this tea so it is quite good value.

The purple buds are more purple (and green) in colour than the silver variety.

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This tea develops a pale golden colour more characteristic of white teas than the silver buds clear almost water like liquor.

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Brewing method: 90 degrees for 3-4 minutes

My brewing method: 90 degrees for 4 minutes

Taste: The initial taste is hard to describe I think it is quite smoky which surprised me as the packaging for this brand is usually very accurate. The packaging does mention “complex taste” though doesn’t mention smokiness. The smokiness soon gives way to a sweeter profile more characteristic of white tea. There is very strong and very pleasant sweet after taste of peaches.

Subsequent infusions: The second and third infusions was less smoky and sweeter and more to my taste. I do not really like smoky tea ( I can’t stand lapsang souchong) so this was preferable.

Conclusion: Ya bao silver is a woody tea which does not change the appearance of the water much. Ya bao purple buds are sweeter and more like a typical white tea and the fruity after taste is very enjoyable yet there is an unusual smoky flavour which ruins the enjoyment for me. I tend to prefer sweet white teas but I have always enjoyed Ya bao silver bud’s woody profile for variety I will continue to buy Ya bao silver buds though I do not think I would buy purple buds again as I prefer the sweet taste of bai mu dan.

Teas I drink most, a top 10.

This is a list of my top ten teas based on what I actually drink the most of. Some of these are rarer or more expensive teas some of these are a lot more common. Based on what I drink the most of.

Also note this list is in no particular order I just couldn’t choose an absolute favourite. I could easily have done a top 20 (or top 100) but I would have had to write about each tea and I’m too lazy. I may release (depending on demand) a list of my top 100 teas.

1. Glenburn tea makers of London first flush Darjeeling

A black Darjeeling more reminiscent of a white tea the leaves produce a paler liquor than most Darjeelings and the taste is floral and sweet with a hint of citrus basically it combines everything I love about Darjeeling with everything I love about white tea

2. Tea pigs green tea and mint tea temples

A combination of Chunmee green tea from China and a peppermint leaves in a roughly 1:1 ratio. This is rather different from the other teas on my list as it is not loose leaf and it is also a blend while all the other teas in this top ten are pure tea leaf.

The tea temples are essentially larger pyrmaid shaped tea bags filled with loose leaf quality tea. This allows you to have the best of both worlds, the convenience of the tea bag with the taste of loose leaf. There are better quality green teas out there but this remains my favourite morning tea. I am so not a morning person and this tea is so convenient (heat water, pour into cup, add tea temple, done) when I am still half asleep and I find the mint helps wake me up.

Teapigs were what first got me into tea. I tried their Green tea and mint, their mao feng, their oolong and their Jasmine tea. I now tend to buy more expensive loose leaf from specialist sellers but I still enjoy their Oolong (though it just missed out on being on this list) but the Green tea and mint is still a firm favourite of mine.

3, Long jing dragon well

A very famous Chinese green tea and perhaps the most popular tea in China. Longjing dragon well is very mellow and balanced it also works well cold brewed or as an iced tea for summer. There is no astringency just a mellow smooth vegetal flavour.

4. Huo Shan Huang ya

A yellow tea from China. Yellow teas are less common than greens and not widely known in the UK. yellow teas undergo an extra step after pan frying which results in a mellow slightly creamy taste (it tastes a bit like a creamier Long Jing).

5. Bai mudan (white peony)

A popular white tea, stronger than the more subtle but more prized Yin Zhen. I love Yin Zhen (though it just missed out on this list in favour of bai mudan) but I prefer the stronger fruiter flavour of bai mudan. This is also a good gateway white tea if you want to try white tea for the first time as most white tea is more subtle than this.

6. Yin Zhen silver needle with Jasmine.

I know I just said Yin Zhen lost out to Bai mudan in my top ten but it also missed out to this. Yin Zhen flavoured with Jasmine, Jasmine tea is very popular in China and my favourite Jasmine tea is this as I love the balance between white tea and Jasmine and prefer it to all the Jasmine green teas I have tried (though Phoenix eyes Jasmine came close).

7. Nokcha

Korean green tea. “Cha” means tea (as it does in Chinese and Japanese) and “nok” means green. Korean nokcha is different from other green teas it is usally brewed at around 70-75 degrees and only for about a minute compared to the usual (though admittedly variable depending on the tea) 80 degrees for three minutes for most green teas. Nokcha has a light savoury taste that is difficult to describe it is a little like rice though the tea is far lighter than Genmaicha.

Unfortunately not much tea is imported from South Korea this is because most of their tea is for the domestic market. South Korea is a small country and as such the supply of tea is limited. This means South Korean tea is quite expensive.

8. Dong Ding Oolong

I drink a lot of oolongs but I rarely find one I will buy again and again in fact there are three; Dong Ding, Khao Hom fragrant rice oolong (see the honorable mentions) and Jin Xuan milk oolong. Dong Ding was the first oolong I ever tried. I loved it. It is still my favourite oolong and my go to for this category of teas.

9. Xu Long snow dragon

A Chinese green tea that is somewhere between a green and a white. It is very sweet naturally which is why I like it so much. I have a big sweet tooth and I am quite fat so obviously I need to stop eating so many sweet things. Making this tea gives me the taste of something sweet without the calories and also gives me something to do with my hands meaning I am less likely to go for cake (now if only I could find teas that taste like chips, pizza and ice cream).

10. Sencha

The most common tea from Japan almost all Japanese teas are made from Sencha (such as Genmaicha which is Sencha and rice) or a by product of Sencha productions (like Mecha or Hojicha).  This is why of all the Japanese green teas I had to put Sencha on my list. A good everyday drink (in fact when I lived in Japan I did drink it every day) and it is good cold or warm. Cold green tea is sold in bottles in Japan the same way fizzy drink is in the West. While I love most Japanese teas and probably drink more Genmaicha than I do pure Sencha the simple fact is without Sencha Genmaicha would not exist.

 

Honorable mentions:

Teas I wanted to include but just missed out.

Yin Zhen silver needle- A subtle sweet and fruity white tea and the most prized. I wanted at least one white tea on this list and to be honest though I drink quite a bit of Yin Zhen I drink Bai mudan more. The Jasmine version of this tea did make the list though as my favourite Jasmine.

Fen Yuan Phoenix eyes- A jasmine green tea that just lost out to Yin Zhen Jasmine on my list. I enjoy this tea a lot but my preference for white Jasmine teas means reach for the Yin Zhen Jasmine far more than this one. For more on Fen Yuan Phoenix eyes see my review of this tea.

Genmaicha- I do drink more Genmaicha than pure Sencha but as there is no Genmaicha without Sencha I felt the more popular tea deserved to be on the list. More information on Genmaicha coming up soon in my upcoming post about Japanese greens (as soon as my order from Japan gets here).

Khao hom fragrant rice oolong-This is an oolong from Thailand. It is flavoured with sticky rice in a pretty overpowering way. For the first 2-3 infusions all you can taste in the creamy vanilla and rice scent. By the third infusion the taste of the oolong underneath begins to emerge. This is one of those teas that but be infused several times to get the best out of it as the flavour profile begins to change. Just lost out to Dong Ding for me.

Yuchi wild shan cha- I have never had a green or white tea I didn’t like. I like about 75 per cent of the oolongs I try enough to at least finish my pack of tea even if I never buy more of that particular tea. With black teas I am more picky. I prefer Indian Darjeelings and Assama and Sri Lankan Ceylons. I rarely find black tea that is not from India or Sri Lanka that I like. Yuchi wild swan cha, a black tea from Taiwan is the exception. It is not too malty or astringent and has a clean finish and slight hint of honey, peaches and savoury flavours.

I’d love to hear what other people’s top ten are in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

Yin Zhen silver needle (from Yunnan)

Yin Zhen is one of the most prized of the white teas. A good quality Yin Zhen will have “fur” on the leaves as in the picture below. Apologies for my hand I have ordered a cha he (presentation vessel for tea) from the Chinese tea seller Yunnan sourcing but as they are based in China and I am based in the UK and in the rural North of England as well I expect it will take a while to arrive. Though as I placed the order last night and woke up to an email saying it has been dispatched this morning I am so far impressed with their speed.

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This particular Yin Zhen is from Yunnan province while most Yin Zhen is from Fujian province. Almost all white tea is produced in China and most of that in Fujian.

Yin Zhen from Fujian has a sweet floral profile whereas this one is more woody and tastes more like other woody white teas such as Ya Bao silver buds (review on that one coming soon) but slightly sweeter. I wish I had some Fujian Yin Zhen left to do a comparative post but I drunk all my Yin Zhen before I had the idea to do a blog and I have so much tea at the moment and a couple of small deliveries (one from China one from Japan) on the way and I need to drink through all (or at least most) of that before buying more.

The packaging (side note: I love curious tea’s packaging because there is always so much information on it, most packaging has the name of the tea and brewing instructions but theirs also has interesting details about the tea) states that this white tea is processed similar to young pu-erh. My experience of pu-erh is very limited as I have only ever tried one and though I didn’t dislike it I wouldn’t buy it again. I do have a couple of samples of different pu-erhs somewhere which I will eventually get round to reviewing.

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Brewing method: 3-4 minutes at 80 degrees

My brewing method: 5 minutes at 80 degrees (I prefer my white teas overbrewed).

Taste: Woody profile with a slight sweet aftertaste.

Subsequent infusions: From the second infusion onwards the sweet aftertaste is completely gone leaving a subtle woody profile. Pleasant enough but no where near as complex a flavour as the first infusion.

Conclusion: Not a bad white tea, I can tell it is good quality by the texture of the leaves but I personally prefer the Fujian Yin Zhen with its sweeter profile. If you enjoy pu-erh or woody white teas I would recommend this tea if you prefer sweeter white teas (like I do), look for Yin Zhen from Fujian instead.