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So I placed an order with 52teas last week, and it should (in theory, and if nothing goes wrong) arrive here at the end of this week or the start of the next. I should, therefore, be spending Suicide Reading Week drinking up some teas in my cupboard to make room for the new ones, right? Right? I should, in no way, be buying more teas or teaware. Ahem.

Well, I guess I actually won’t be picking up any more for a while, as my bank account can’t handle it. I took an extra shift at work to cover this purchase, but then that’s it until I get paid…twice.

Anyway. One of the most interesting things about this tea…“journey,” obsession, whatever, is that I am learning things about my own tastes that I never expected.

For example. If you were to ask me if I like floral teas, my first impulse would be to say no. I hate floral scents in perfume after all, plus I grew up that kid with the hideous sweet tooth who had to be strapped down to be fed vegetables. Flowers are PLANTS, and not fruits, and therefore sort of fall into the category of “vegetables” in some utterly irrational part of my brain. I’m sure I would never have had tea as a child if someone had told me it’s plant leaves.

Yet, I liked that orchid-infused green I got from Teaopia a lot, so hmm. I went to DAVIDsTEA yesterday with intentions to buy Nepal Black, a sample of White Tiger and a sample of one of their straight whites…I was thinking probably the Bai Hao Yin Zhen. Until I smelled it, and it was so utterly unexciting, and I ended up leaving with everything but the Bai Hao Yin Zhen.

I had originally not planned to get this at all because it is a jasmine white (ew, flowers!), so I was completely taken by surprise when I smelled it, and it was absolutely divine. I can’t put this scent into words, other than to say I want to huff in the bag, it’s soft and sweet and so enchanting. We have a Tetley jasmine green that smells a bit like this, but that’s like saying that that a digital sport Timex and a TAG Heuer are the same thing because they both tell you what time it is.

I steeped it in little batches in my gaiwan, about 45-60 seconds to a steep. (No less than that because I fumble too much.) Then I poured it into my new hailstone cast iron teacup that I got from DT at the same time as this tea. I cringed at myself buying a $25 tea cup (that’s almost as much as my Timolino!), but I have no regrets now. What an amazing little cup! Its capacity matches my gaiwan perfectly, our strainer fits it exactly, and it keeps my tea so warm once I pour it from my gaiwan (the reason I got it, since gaiwans lose heat quickly and I drink slowly). Whee!

First infusion: Very subtle and gently sweet. Left a veritable lei in my mouth. So far, this is actually the best infusion, and I couldn’t stop sipping it. Good lord, I’m glad I got out of the way of thinking that I should automatically discard the first steep when brewing in a gaiwan. Why would you not drink this, seriously.

Second infusion: Whoa, more strongly floral than before, in a way I wasn’t entirely sure was pleasant. It bordered on an outright “plant” taste, not as sweet as before. So I added a single drop of honey to it. Mistake! You cannot add a sweetener to this. The end result was utterly baffling to me and hard to describe. Essentially what happened was that the tastes did not remotely mix. The honey in no way flavoured the tea; I could still taste every note of the tea perfectly, just as I had before, and I could also taste the honey separately. How can that be?!

Third infusion: Think I’m getting more “tea” taste now as I write this. It’s light and crisp, reminds me of…I don’t know, white wine? I’m not certain, though. Grr, why didn’t I start with the plain white so I’d have a point of comparison? Think I’ll only do one more infusion of this, I’m getting bored.

Fourth infusion: Two minutes, not one. Don’t think that’s even the full potential of this one, but I truly got bored. I’m too fickle for the same tea over and over, no matter how much I like it. This is fuller in the middle, like a balloon of tea with flowers for the rubber boundaries. It gets almost a bit fruity, and is very satisfying at the back of your throat in a way that I just realized I associate exclusively with tea. After the first infusion, this one is my favourite. Maybe it gets better after this, but the instructions only suggest brewing it for 5 minutes, and this is five minutes total.

So: lovely! Although don’t let it get cold, it’s gross.

And apparently…I do like floral teas.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec
Indigobloom

I find most of the DT and Teaopia whites, the plain ones anyhow… textbook boring. Bleh! I think my fave is White Butterfly (or something like that) at Teaopia.

Daniel Scott

I do suspect this one might be boring, but the jasmine completely saves it for me. I think I’m now never going to bother with the Bai Hao Yin Zhen, because it smells like it would taste like white paper.

I do really like Strawberry Fields from Teaopia, but I haven’t tried any of their straight whites…

For white teas that you like, what vendors do you like?

Indigobloom

oh jeeze. It’s hard to find good white tea!! Tea Emporium was pretty good, mostly their white peony. I haven’t tried many places for fear of disappointment. That plastic taste in cheap whites is so annoying!

MegWesley

It is reviews like this that make me really want to get a little gaiwan and some bundles of white, green, oolong, and black (yunnan! yum!) tea. What sort of gaiwan do you have?

Daniel Scott

@Meg – It’s basically the one in my avatar. It doesn’t look like the ones which are little round cups on a saucer…it’s got lips on the side for your fingers, a spout, and you can see the lid is different; it’s actually got filter holes that line up with the spout. It’s like half-way between a gaiwan and a little teapot.

I’ve been told it’s technically not a gaiwan, actually, although it sold under the name “gaiwan” at the Teaopia I got it at (the price sticker on it even said “gaiwan”), so I’ve kept calling it that since. A bit of poking around tells me that it might also be called a gaibei or a cebei. Although when I google “gaibei” I also get gaiwans, and when I google “cebei” I get things I would have called teapots, so I’m not sure. And since I don’t know how to pronounce those yet, I’m going with gaiwan.

If you’re by a Teaopia at all, they might have one!

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Comments

Indigobloom

I find most of the DT and Teaopia whites, the plain ones anyhow… textbook boring. Bleh! I think my fave is White Butterfly (or something like that) at Teaopia.

Daniel Scott

I do suspect this one might be boring, but the jasmine completely saves it for me. I think I’m now never going to bother with the Bai Hao Yin Zhen, because it smells like it would taste like white paper.

I do really like Strawberry Fields from Teaopia, but I haven’t tried any of their straight whites…

For white teas that you like, what vendors do you like?

Indigobloom

oh jeeze. It’s hard to find good white tea!! Tea Emporium was pretty good, mostly their white peony. I haven’t tried many places for fear of disappointment. That plastic taste in cheap whites is so annoying!

MegWesley

It is reviews like this that make me really want to get a little gaiwan and some bundles of white, green, oolong, and black (yunnan! yum!) tea. What sort of gaiwan do you have?

Daniel Scott

@Meg – It’s basically the one in my avatar. It doesn’t look like the ones which are little round cups on a saucer…it’s got lips on the side for your fingers, a spout, and you can see the lid is different; it’s actually got filter holes that line up with the spout. It’s like half-way between a gaiwan and a little teapot.

I’ve been told it’s technically not a gaiwan, actually, although it sold under the name “gaiwan” at the Teaopia I got it at (the price sticker on it even said “gaiwan”), so I’ve kept calling it that since. A bit of poking around tells me that it might also be called a gaibei or a cebei. Although when I google “gaibei” I also get gaiwans, and when I google “cebei” I get things I would have called teapots, so I’m not sure. And since I don’t know how to pronounce those yet, I’m going with gaiwan.

If you’re by a Teaopia at all, they might have one!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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Bio

I’ve always been a tea drinker – I grew up drinking Tetley’s Orange Pekoe and their Chai, and considered myself to really like tea.

I’ve been working various retail jobs to put myself through higher education. One day at my store, a customer left a newly purchased bag of loose-leaf behind. We waited for three days for said customer to return, but they (likely not realizing where they had left their bag) did not return to claim the would-be brew. Too bad for them; lucky for me! I claimed the bag, took it home, and awkwardly made my first cup of loose-leaf tea with the only strainer we owned which was small enough.

I haven’t bothered with Tetley since. For the most part (and due to convenience), my patronage is limited to David’s Tea and Teavana. I also order from 52teas and Verdant Tea.

My rating system – hah, I don’t have a rating system. I rate teas a lot like Ebert rates movies. Everything’s relative.

I may often forget to mention it, but you can safely assume everything I drink is sweetened in one way or another – most rock sugar, or honey for green and white teas. I have not yet achieved drinking most tea clear. The few teas I drink unsweetened include milk oolong and genmaicha so far.

The guy in my avatar can be bought at Teaopia or here: http://www.jas-etea.com/products/Jingdezhen-%22Easy%22-Gaiwan-%22Blue-on-White-Phoenix%22-100ml.html

I currently work for Teavana. But I just work there, and my opinions about any of their teas are entirely my own and not meant to be reflective of the views of the company.

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