This is my post number 100! Happy Steepsterversary to me, yay!
This is one of the teas I bought earlier this week when I first feel off the stingy-wagon. I haven’t tasted it yet as I have saved it for this very occasion and this particular post.
Pai Mu Tan has always been for me one of THE white teas. This one and Yin Zhen. They are the very essence of white teas and nothing can surpass them in greatness. They don’t need to have fantastic outstanding flavours, they are carried by their names alone.
Today has been a day in the name of glazed teapot maintenance. I very rarely clean out my pots on the inside other than a thorough rinsing with clean water, because a teapot that you can see is in use is a teapot with character! And it also greatly reduces the threat of accidentally making up a pot of tea that tastes of soap residue. However, I felt that this tea for this post deserved as clean a pot as I could muster. So that was eight teapots total, half a tub of baking soda, god only knows how many liters of water boiled and even more water for rinsing. (The planet probably hates me now.)
I am very carefully brewing this as well as I can without actually owning a thermometer. I’m a bit surprised that the shop recommends a steeping time of 6-8 minutes which I think is eons for a white, so I had to consult my literature. To my enormous surprise, the literature agrees! O.o Have I been brewing whites all wrong all this time? Very well, I shall give it 6-8 minutes, although it’s really difficult to convince my head that this is a good idea. My literature also informs me that green teas are best steeped without the pot lid on so as to prevent it from stewing in the steam and a gentler preparation. I’m assuming that this also goes for white tea.
It’s steeping now, there are five minutes to go. I’m really nervous that I’m going to ruin this. What sort of Steepsterversary post would that make! O.o
Anyway, the dry leaves are large and green and they have a fresh, grassy sort of smell. You can dream yourself halfway to China on this smell, it’s very nice. Because I’m impatient and can’t wait until I’ve poured a cup, I’ve been sniffing the pot too as it steeps. The grassy smell is more prominent here when mixed with the steam, but it’s hard to really pick up on the notes this way.
I have made sure to choose a big white porcelain mug that allows me to drain the pot in go. Of course, I have to say yay for surface tension here and I’m not going to attempt lifting it! :p It’s a darkish golden colour, very unlike the murky brownish stuff in the cheap teabags, and after pouring, it darkens a little further quickly.
It has a very clear sort of vegetal and leafy smell that you don’t have to sit and search for. It flows right up and out of the cup and fills up your nose on every sniff.
Mmmm, no, the long steeping time definitely didn’t ruin it. Once again it would seem that the literature is smarter than me. It has a natural sweetness to it. It’s not as delicate as I had expected. I’ve had white teas before, obviously, but I think this might be my debut with this particular variety. It leaves a sort of fresh feeling in the mouth on the sides of the tongue, the same way that mint does, only without actually tasting of mint at all.
However, it does also leave behind that somewhat sour aftertaste that lasts forever. I like a tea that has flavour that doesn’t go away immediately, but I’m not really a very big fan of this particular sourness. I find, though, that it decreases considerably if I don’t keep the tea in my mouth for too long before swallowing.
I am not in the slightest disappointed by this. (And will have to take my white tea brewing methods up to some serious revision, it would seem…)