Absolute Tea

Monday, February 27

A Week of White Tea

Due to last week being about black tea, I thought to discuss its opposite this time around - White Tea. The differences are truly night and day, especially with taste. The methods to make white tea, as well as the qualities it possesses are so contrasting to black tea that white tea becomes as delicate as a Camellia Sinensis flower.

So today I present to you an uncommon flavor known simply as:

White Peony

Image Courtesy of Adagio Teas

The truest tea you can possibly buy, as there has been very little done to the leaves other than pick them. When you smell the tea prior to steeping you can really get a sense of what this tea will taste like. It is a bit of a grassy smell, but with very sweet undertones.

The name Peony comes from the way the leaves unfold - like a peony flower. Not only that but this tea is so fragile that being named after a flower helps identify the light flavor. To more closely describe this flavor you could say that it…

  • is mellow and smooth along the tongue

  • is gentle in its natural sweetness

  • has a light if non-existent aftertaste

  • is reminiscent of green tea with the slight vegetal flare

  • matches its own aroma perfectly

  • creates a refreshing sensation

White Peony’s color when brewed is deep yellow or light orange depending on how it is steeped and what the leaf content is.

A white porcelain China doll is what this tea reminds me of, and I think it is absolutely fitting, as this tea is a specialty of China, grown in the Fujian province. You must take care with this tea otherwise you will never know its true beauty.

More resources to find information on white tea can be located at Wikipedia.

Absolute Rating: ( * ) ( * ) ( * ) ( ) ( )

This might be a little off-putting for me to rate such a high quality tea with only 3 stars, but it must be done. My reasons for a mediocre score are not so much about the taste, but rather for the overall process of making the tea combined with the end result. There are a lot of careful timing and steeping procedures to consider and if you screw something up a whole pot of tea will be wasted. With all of this delicate work you would expect to get a spectacular tasting tea that is deep in its flavor nuances, but this is just not the case. The final product is a taste so slight and refined that you could only enjoy it if you had been drinking tea for a few years and your taste buds were sensitized.

On top of this, there is the vegetal taste that I just can’t get past. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate this tea very much, but it reminds me too much of eating leaves. So when it comes down to it, I spend too much time preparing this tea to be able to enjoy the subtlety of it. Again, in contrast to the rookie favorite English Breakfast Tea, White Peony tea is not for novice tea drinkers.

Suggested Brewing Method

White tea, like green tea, is a very touchy and versatile drink to make. There are many variables that can be adjusted to achieve a personal desired taste, but if you want to truly discover the full details of White Peony then I would follow these instructions.

~What you will need~

  1. One ounce of loose leaf, White Peony tea

  2. A 4-6 cup teapot with a very large strainer

  3. Your teaspoon devoted to tea only

  4. Automatic shut-off boiler or a teakettle

  5. Purified water

  6. A digital timer

  7. Thermometer that goes to 200°

  8. Patients


  1. Fill boiler with filtered water and start to boil

  2. Rinse teapot with hot water until warm

  3. Place 2 heaping teaspoons of tea into strainer for every 1 cup of tea (1 cup = 6 ounces)

  4. After water boils, let cool down to 160° (Do not use boiling water)

  5. Steep for 2-3 minutes (Do not over steep)

  6. Remove strainer and loose tea

  7. Enjoy with Enya or Classical music in a rocking chair

As I said before, this tea can be adjusted within its brewing methods to create different flavors of the leaves, but these directions should yield the classic flavors. If you want to play around with the taste you can adjust the temperature between 160-180° and add more or less tea to the steep. The general rules to follow here are, if you increase the temperature you should decrease the steep time vise versa. Never use water hotter than 180°, as you will scorch the leaves and ruin the delicate flavors that they produce. Also, similar to black tea, white tea contains tannins and will become bitter if you steep it for too long, thus temperature and leave quantity are important to pay attention to when judging how long to steep.

An interesting quality with white tea is that if you mess up your first time you can reuse the same leaves in your strainer, so don’t immediately throw them away. You can usually reuse the same leaves about three times before they lose their potency. All you need to do is reheat the water to the proper temperature and infuse the leaves once again. The tea won’t taste as strong as the first batch did, but each consecutive infusion will have slight variations in its flavor. You really get a lot of bang for your buck with white tea.

2 comment(s):

This sounds interesting, from the name to the color to the taste. You are giving me a reason to try that tea shop.

By Blogger Sharon, at 10:43 PM CST  

The tea shop in town is phenomenal. The lady who runs it is a saint and very helpful, and their products are top knotch.

By Blogger Dr Kuha, at 12:56 AM CST  

Post a comment

<< Home