April 12th, 2012
I find white teas tend to darken with age, and this one is darker than current-year samples of shou mei I have tried in the past, but it still had quite a lot of green leaf.
This was one tea that I really had to brew before I noticed its quality...the dry leaf looks and smells relatively unremarkable, but upon brewing I found this tea to be top-notch.
Aroma is complex, with tones of spice, vanilla, autumn leaves, caramel, and dried fruit. Flavor is very clean, with a slight bitterness, and considerable sweetness. Very little astringency! This tea has a crisp, clean, peppery finish unlike most shou mei, which often leaves a muted astringency on the palate. Although I found the aroma of this tea to be wonderful, it is the clean mouthfeel and sensations on the palate that I find set it apart from other teas in this style.
Very smooth and pleasing to drink! My favorite Shou Mei yet. Although this is slightly more expensive than Upton's many Shou Mei offerings, I think the higher price is reflected in noticeably higher quality. Relatively little leaf is required to brew a full-bodied, flavorful cup.