This is one of the two teas that made up my late August order with House of Tea. Like that other set of leaves, this one initially appealed to me because it linked back to a tea I’d written about earlier.
In the case of this tea that was a post about Red Jade, a Taiwanese black tea.
What intrigued me here was that this tea is produced from the same raw material, but is processed in the style of a white tea instead. As I’ve said several times before on this blog, these kinds of tea experiments, when a cultivar normally used in one class of tea is given the treatment of another, utterly fascinate me.
Once you open the tea caddy you are instantly struck with an initial similarity between the black and the white teas made from this raw material, namely the sock to the hooter aroma of lychees.
The dry leaf of the white tea was noticeably lighter in colour, though, just as you’d expect it to be.
|Water Used:||Filtered tap water|
|Weight of dry leaf:||6½ grams|
|Infusion style:||Asian / Gong-fu|
|Steeping vessel:||150 ml porcelain gaiwan|
|No. & duration:||a first infusion @ 5 seconds, then @ +5 seconds until 20 seconds, then @ 30, 40, 60, then finally 90 seconds for a total of 8 infusions.|
That ka-blammo! lychee thing also transferred over to the taste of the liquor, again something that this tea had in common with the black one. Right from the first round there was a nice oily mouthfeel on display here.
The liquor was, unsurprisingly, much less deep a hue than that produced by the black tea. It also lacked the black version’s darker, caramelized bread crust notes.
I got the impression that there was something else sat behind that fruity onslaught in its place, but try as I might I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
However, once I was past the 4th. infusion the lychee tide began to retreat, allowing whatever it was to begin to show itself above the waves.
The problem was that by this time in the session even the subtle flavours that had been masked by the dominant one were also starting to fade, but there was nevertheless a pleasant, vegetal thing coming through, like spinach and broccoli.
The session was winding down though, and by the 8th steeping it was clear that the leaves had given all they had.
This certainly was a tricky one to pin down.
Appearance wise this tea clearly stands up on it own right compared to its sister black tea made from the same material, but that powerful, dominant lychee note kind of pulls it back in to the other tea’s gravity field, so to speak.
I think what might be happening is that my memories of the black version might be a little off point by now. When I first opened the packet my initial thought was how very similar I thought the two teas were, until I did a side-by-side comparison of pictures of the two. Once I’d prepared a comparative set of images of the dry leaf, liquor, and used leaves, flicking between the two clearly demonstrated how different they actually were.
Similarly it might take a taste-off session featuring both teas to more accurately pinpoint the differences in taste between the two.
In the meantime though, this is still a very interesting tea in its own right. I can certainly see it appealing to white tea fans who want to try something a bit unusual.