(The tea sold by Harney & Sons as Fanciest Formosa is more generically known as Bai Hao.)

I know it’s not the point, but I just want to begin by saying that this a really pretty tea. The dry leaves, which are rolled up into thin, wiry forms, range through several different shades of reddish-brown with the occasional greenish thread or long silvery bud. Imagine a chiffonade of autumn leaves.

The liquor itself is a deep golden color, and the aroma has rich notes of stone fruit and dark flowers. It’s especially powerful if you take a good whiff of the freshly drained leaves as professional tasters do. The flavor matches, with a nice medium body and a lot of sweetness (for an unsweetened beverage, anyway). In short, I really love this tea.

Oh, and did I mention how pretty the dry leaves are? This is a good tea to brew in a glass pot if you have one, because you get to see this twiggy leaves expand into beautiful medium-sized leafsets. This process wasn’t complete when I drained the first brew, but by the time I started the second (for three and a half minutes) it was pretty much set. They can give a third steeping as well (I give it four minutes) with nice flavor and aroma, though the peach notes are definitely reduced.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Graduate student, musician and enthusiastic tea drinker. I’m only beginning to explore some parts of the tea world, but am rapidly developing a good sense of what I like.

Just FYI, I tend not to rate by number. Quantification is too tempting: let’s worry less about digits and more about the details.

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