I really love pearl teas and flowering teas! Teas that offer levels of enjoyment visually and in taste, from the first cup to the last! This is a unique tea that I’m glad I purchased from Upton Tea about two months ago. I prepared this tea over two days using two methods with my Bonjour glass tea press (18-20 oz).
These Shai Zhen Zhu Shou Mei Pearls are huge; about the size of a large marble or Super Ball. I tried gongfu brewing for this tea first, each cup being roughly 7 oz each, while I gradually increased steep time & temperature. Cup #1: Water about 185 degrees, 1.5 minute steep time. The tea pearl barely began to unfurl, emitting a lightly sweet aroma, and an equally light nut/fruit aroma. Wet leaf aroma was very toasty, woody and roasty in nature, cooling to reveal more melon aromatics—like ripe cantaloupe. Cup color was a very light ecru, with a gentle, sweet aroma. Tea flavor is sweet, gentle with hints of the woods & melon-very slight.
Cup #2: 200 degrees, steeped for two minutes; the tea pearl half unfurled. The best aroma in wet leaves—again, very toasty, woody and roasted, cooling to a very noticeable fruity, ripe cantaloupe quality. Cup color was ecru to light brown, with good woods and toasty qualities. Cooler cup reveals more fruit & melon aromatics. Tea flavor is fuller but still gentle, good woody notes coat my palate, with a sweetness like honey. This cup reveals the best fruity cantaloupe notes.
Cup #3: 212 degrees for 5 minutes; tea pearl is fully unfurled revealing very large olive green/brown leaves. Waning wet leave aromatics, but still smells like cup #2. Cup color is darkest—still light/medium brown, with similar, but fading aromas. Flavors are milder than second cup, but still toasty, and fruity- with less honey like sweetness.
The next day, I decided to brew a second pearl closer to Upton’s brewing instructions. Filling my tea press with 180 degree filtered water, my first cup steeped at 4 minutes. This was the fullest most delicious cup. Light to medium brown in color with fuller woody, toasty cup aromas, cooling to reveal honey like sweetness & ripe cantaloupe. Satisfying warm woods and toast coated my palate and soothed my throat. The most balance of any cup-still gentle in aromas and flavors. Woods, toast, gentle honey sweetness, later revealing more melon qualities. Delicious! :D
My last cup was steeped a full 5 minutes. Although still present in aroma and flavor, cup aromas and qualities were dissipating, and not quite as flavorful as the previous cup. Flavors and sweetness less defined, with only the very slightest of bitterness-which, for this Pearl Tea, is hardly noticeable.
Keep in mind, because this is a full leaf white tea, the quality cups you savor will be flavorful, gentle and satisfying. :D For these Shou Mei Pearls, I prefer my second day (two cup) brew, because the aromas and flavors were most satisfying & delicious, AND I simply enjoyed these cups more. Not to mention this is a visually satisfying experience as well! :D A tea to treasure when you have time for contemplation & relaxation, perhaps to share among fellow tea friends. ;-)
Cupped: Thursday-Friday, January 26-27, 2017. Reviewed: Sunday, January 29, 2017.
Flavors: Cantaloupe, Honey, Toasted, Wood