I just received my tea order last week and, after first enjoying some of the delicious Indian black teas I have been craving from Mountain Rose Herbs, decided to have a refreshing cup of my favorite white tea. As soon as I opened the bag, I was disappointed. I couldn’t believe my eyes. My precious White Peony, which I have ordered before many times, was no longer whole leaf!! I was so shocked to find all those lovely leaves and buds all chopped up to smithereens, my beautiful baby hacked to oblivion…! Why, why, why??? I can’t believe they would do that to this wonderful tea, which was so perfect when it was whole! Why couldn’t they have left it as it was?
Trying not to panic, I proceeded to make my cup of tea (using less leaf than I used to when it was whole—I used to use a large heaping tablespoon but figured because it’s broken leaf I would need only the standard teaspoonful), hoping against all hope that perhaps it would still taste the same as I remember it: sweet and slightly floral, like honey and flowers… So I held my breath and waited for the infusion to finish steeping.
and poured it into the cup. It was darker in color, like a darker brownish yellow (unlike the lovely golden honey-color I fondly remember). I took a sip. It was not the same. My worse fears had been confirmed. Something in this tea had been lost—the delicate taste was gone, replaced by a stronger, more bold and flat vegetal flavor. I wanted to cry. (And then I somehow managed to keep it together, reminding myself that I am an adult, and that there really are worse things in life than a disappointing cup of tea! Ah, perspective.)
Anyhow, I am now left with an 8 oz bag of the Shredded White Peony. What to do, what to do? I knew I could make this tea for my husband, who is most definitely NOT a tea snob like me and who gasp! thinks all tea “tastes basically the same”, and therefore is my typical go-to person for disposing of sub-par tea so as not to waste it. But I felt I should not give up on my poor peony so easily. It used to be too good of a tea to waste on my husband. So…
As with all things, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I decided that this tea could possibly be blended with something else and produce a decent cup. Fortunately I had also just bought a bunch of MRH’s peppermint leaf (I will have a separate tasting note on that because it is SO good!) and thought the flavor of the white peony would actually work well with some nice crisp, refreshing mint. I resolved to try it and made 3 cups of an infusion from 2 teaspoons white tea + 1 teaspoon peppermint leaf. The result: VERY GOOD! It was light, minty, slightly vegetal but not too strong, the white tea flavor came through and was not overpowered by the mint, and overall I would say it made a fine blend. I call this tea, “Winter’s Breath” as its taste brings to mind that moment when you step outside on a snowy winter day and inhale the crisp clean air. It should provide the perfect drink for Christmas morning, or on any winter day when the snow is falling outside. As I seem to always get in the mood for mint around the holidays, this should be good for all my intents and purposes this year.
As to why MRH decided to cut up their white tea, I have no idea and am curious to find out. I might call the company and just ask about it, because I do miss how it was sold before. I love MRH, they have excellent teas and this is the first time I have ever been disappointed with their product. I’m sure they must have a good reason for not selling it whole leaf. Oh well. Don’t cry over spilt milk. Or in this case, broken leaf.
Because this tea was always good before, and the essential taste is still there (although it is much stronger and less complex than before) I will hold off rating this for now. I am going to experiment a little and try steeping it at different temps, for different times, and see if I can’t get closer to the taste I love and remember before.