You know, I didn’t realize this until very recently, but I have always unconsciously limited myself when it comes to white teas. In the past, I mostly stuck with silver needle and moonlight white teas, or teas that were very similar to them. Oddly, I never bothered to try white peony, which is especially strange considering that it is one of the more popular and readily available white teas. Recently, I decided that I really needed to try some pai-mu-tan, so I ended up with a 1 ounce sample of this tea. Simpson & Vail seems to not be offering this tea at the time of this review, though they are still selling an organic version of this tea. I bought this one solely because it was cheaper. I figured that if I liked this one, I could always purchase a sample of the organic version in the future and compare the two.
I prepared this tea using a one step Western infusion. I steeped 2 full teaspoons of this tea in 8 ounces of 175 F water for 5 minutes. I also tried a single 4 minute infusion with this tea, as well as multi-step Western infusions and a short gongfu session. This review primarily concerns the 5 minute preparation, though I will briefly comment on the others.
I did not hold out much hope for this tea at first. I noticed that when I was first pouring the water into the glass, the leaves emitted a powerful odor that reminded me of egg yolk. I hate the smell, flavor, and texture of eggs-I literally become nauseated just at the thought of eating an egg or the sight of someone cooking and/or eating eggs. It was an instant turnoff for me, but I decided to persevere. After the prescribed 5 minutes had elapsed, I gave the infused liquor another sniff, and the egg aroma had vanished. I noted delicate aromas of peony, cream, butter, herbs, straw, toast, and honey. In the mouth, I picked up on pronounced herb, straw, butter, cream, toast, peony, and honey flavors. I also noted a very slight spiciness somewhat reminiscent of cinnamon. The 4 minute infusion produced similar results. The multi-step infusion incorporated steep times of 3, 5, and 7 minutes. For this session, I noted powerful herbal, straw, and floral aromas and flavors on the first infusion, creamier and more balanced impressions on the second infusion, and an increase in straw, herb, and spice notes on the final infusion that were accompanied by a subtle mineral presence. For the gongfu session, I utilized approximately 5-6 grams of leaf in 4 ounces of water (I used the same water temperature for each session). The initial infusion was 10 seconds. I increased the steep time by 5 seconds for each additional infusion (15, 20, 25, and 30 seconds). I noted that the tea held its aroma and flavor well through each of these infusions, moving from more pronounced cream, butter, and floral characters to mineral, spice, straw, and herb characters. I also thought I detected a hint of lemon zest that I did not get with any other method.
This tea is hard for me to rate because this is the first time I have tried this type of tea. It was extremely difficult for me to come up with an overall rating for it. I couldn’t compare it to any other white peony tea, so take my rating with a huge grain of salt. I can safely say that I rather enjoyed this tea, though I would probably not choose to drink a tea like this on a regular basis. Still, I am interested in trying other pai-mu-tans from other vendors. As an introduction to this type of white tea, I think this is admirable. I really liked the aromas and flavors this tea displayed, and though I did not fully explore its potential in a longer session, this tea did seem like it could maybe hold its own without embarrassing itself.
Flavors: Butter, Cinnamon, Cream, Floral, Herbs, Honey, Lemon Zest, Mineral, Straw, Toast