This is my first White Peony experience outside of Shang Tea, owned by Zehua Shang, who specializes in white tea, has won pretty high awards for his White Peony, and farms the tea himself, so his tea is direct from the source to the customer. Thus, beware of my bias.
That said, I’ve never felt compelled to purchase Bai Mudan from any other vendors since Shang’s is top notch, and even better I live near the store so I can go and purchase it firsthand and enjoy some tea with the awesome employees. This Rishi white tea only landed in my cupboard because I was at a local grocer to try samples of some loose teas they had in bulk bins. I saw this and thought I’d give it a try since I could sample it very cheap this way.
After a steep or two, the leaves are very green and smell perfumy. I drank the first steeping before starting my review, so my review will start with the second. I am brewing this Gongfu style. This infusion is more yellow than the last, which was a bit pale.
The aroma of the liquor is lightly floral and I’m picking up hints of camphor, to my surprise. The flavor is smooth and lightly green with just a touch of nectar-like sweetness. There are very subtle green and juicy notes like a fresh cucumber. As it cools more and as I get into the third infusion and beyond, there is a copper-like mineral taste, subtle, but there.
The flavor overall is somewhat soft though, bordering on too soft, even after allowing the tea to cool some. I know not all teas are created equal, but I’m using the same amount of leaf I always have with White Peony. I think perhaps I’ve been spoiled on amazing white tea and now that I’m trying one from a less-specialized vendor (meaning their company doesn’t have a specific specialty for white tea), I am seeing now why so many people claim that white tea “tastes like nothing” to them. Indeed, if this white tea from Rishi is more indicative of what white tea is like outside of the high-end vendors, I can see that white teas can be very subtle. I have had a few silver needle teas from sources other than Shang Tea and some were very lacking in flavor or depth, while others were quite robust, so I guess the amount of flavor in white tea can really vary.
While I don’t think this White Peony from Rishi is particularly complex or thick in flavor, I do think it is good, and I think that for the mid-range loose tea market it is a good offering. If you aren’t looking to pay top dollar for your white tea or are looking for the convenience of being able to purchase it at some grocers nearby (currently I only know of Whole Foods selling this, but there may be others), this tea is worth the money. The flavor is pleasant and mild. It was a pleasant experience to drink it, and biases aside, I feel happy to have drank it.
Flavors: Camphor, Cucumber, Nectar, Perfume