I’ve experimented with this tea to find out where its best flavour is and I think I’ve found why there are so many varying reviews on it. This is a very delicate tea and it must be treated as thus. If the temperature, handling, and/or timing is off, the flavour is too potent with a buttery, sea-like flavour. When brewed properly, this is quite possibly the loveliest tea I’ve tasted. It’s very delicate, floral, and refreshing. As a result, I thought I would share my experiences with some insight as to what it is that probably shouldn’t be done with this tea.
The wrong ways to brew this tea
#1. The first time I tried it. I didn’t like it at all. The only temperature our kettle at work has is boiling and that was what I used. I used the minimum 2 minutes to steep and discovered that I almost couldn’t stand this tea. As someone else mentioned, ‘buttered scallops,’ I wound up with something I felt was more akin to buttered seaweed because to think of scallops would have made my stomach turn. It was potent, heavily buttered, with a bitter aftertaste that left a strange coating on my tongue. Yuck!
#2. Determined to like this tea for what I paid for it and because I bought a lot of it on faith, I decided my next step would be a cold brew. In my overzealous frenzy and impatience, I thought that a good ‘shaken’ cold brew would work best to bring out the flavour and to help it brew faster. I shook it vigorously to bring out all the ‘good-for-you goodness’ and then left it for 4.5 hours in the fridge. That was a mistake. The liquid was foggy and the flavour was but-ter-y… Maybe some sweetener would do the trick. We were out of stevia so I used just the smallest splash of honey. It made it more palatable, but it led me to believe that honey was too heavy for a white tea.
#3. I thought if I boiled hot water and then poured it over the leaves before cold brewing, it would tone it down a bit. That was when I finally realized it was seaweed I was smelling. Wow. Did it ever smell like seaweed when I was pouring that hot water over it. Interesting. With a shrug, I put it in the fridge and cold-brewed it for 6 hours, brought it to work with a few packets of stevia and had my co-worker sample it with me. It was better this time, but I thought it could be better still. The buttery flavour was nowhere to be found and it tasted a little bit more like a green tea, along with its subtle pungency. I’m not really a big fan of green tea.
So, we brainstormed together and she said to leave it alone. “Just cold-brew the dang thing and put it in the fridge overnight so that we can have some in the morning…! Oh! And bring a lemon!” She’s always yelling at me. I thought the idea was crazy. Overnight seemed like a bit of a long stretch to me, but I’m always up for an experiment. As a result, I went home and decided to try the tea hot again. Only this time I would do it correctly. Don’t worry, I did the cold brew too.
The right ways to brew this tea
#1. Definitely follow instructions for this tea. The temperature is the most important factor. I have a variable kettle so I set it to White Tea and put only 1 tsp of the leaves in my cup. Yeah, I’ll admit it, I was a little afraid of this tea by that time. I just didn’t want to give up. I brewed it for 1.5 minutes and took my first sip. Damn, this tea is good! I never would have guessed it could be so pungent if it weren’t for my first mistakes. The flavour was light and floral. The aroma was delicate, and the liquor was beautiful and clear.
#2. I put 2 tsp into my cup-sized French press and poured cold water over it, put it in the fridge and left it for 11 hours. When I walked into work, I put it on my co-worker’s desk, ran upstairs, grabbed my cute little cups, and a packet of stevia. I also grabbed the slices of lemon I prepared the night before. By the time I returned, she had already pressed it. She has no patience. We tried the first sip plain. I was surprised by the light flavour and the cool aroma. It really didn’t need anything else in it. There was no bitterness or buttery note. The second sip was with stevia. It was still good, more of a spring/summer drink. We added the lemon for the third sip and discovered a whole new flavour. This was an amazing summer ‘patio’ drink. The notes of the white tea persisted with a beautiful fresh lemon accent in it. The stevia just stirred things together. Though, I’m not entirely convinced that this tea needs any stevia at all.
Be very careful with how you brew this tea if you want to enjoy it. It could mean a world of difference.