Season's Pick Shou Mei (ZW62)
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From Upton Tea
This is among the cheapest whole-leaf white teas that Upton offers. This tea is extremely coarse and irregular--it looks like a bunch of dried leaves you could have picked up off the ground. It is a Shou Mei tea, which means the leaves have been allowed to wither naturally on the plant before being picked, and have not undergone any processing since then.
The brewed tea is very clear and light golden brown, and has an aroma with light, floral qualities and a hint of cinnamon. Towards the end of the cup, some gentle leafy tones come out, like the smell of fresh spring leaves in a garden. The flavor is very sweet; this is the naturally-sweetest-tasting tea I have ever tried, even relative to other white teas. It tastes almost as if you added a bit of cinnamon and honey to it. There's a mild astringency in the aftertaste. Very fresh and light, but with a certain richness to it: quite delightful.
There are many ways to brew this tea. Upton recommends brewing 2 and a half minutes at 180 degrees. Brewed this way, the leaves will easily make a second flavorful infusion, if you let the second cup steep 10+ minutes. The second cup is surprisingly similar in character to the first. Alternatively, you can let the first cup steep 10+ minutes, to get a richer, bolder cup. Another way I've found this tea can be brewed is to use about 5 teaspoons (about the maximum amount of leaves as will fit in a cup-size tea-infuser; a teaball will not work for this purpose) and brew a series of cups, brewing 2 or fewer minutes, then 3-5, then 10+. The cups are surprisingly similar in character. This yields a much stronger cup, with some bitterness, very full-bodied, with much more astringency, but still very enjoyable. Brewing this way, the aroma is reminiscent of autumn leaves and the cup is rich, and still has the pleasing sweetness as when brewed as recommended.
Very reasonable price; white teas tend to be expensive, but this one is quite reasonable. The leaves take up a lot of space and don't go very far, but those are just the rules of the game for this type of tea. This tea is very good for multiple infusions.