Today, I would like to share with you a very interesting tea that I have the privilege to try: Teavivre's Fuding Shou Mei white tea. What intrigues me so greatly about this tea is the form in which it arrived and is sold: that of a (tea) cake. Previously, the only tea I had ever seen compressed into a cake was various pu'erh, but Teavivre's website mentions that - due to the bulk and large size of white tea leaves - these are compressed to make them easier for transport. This compression may also allow the tea to mellow and mature.
Fuding happens to be the region in which this tea was picked, while Shou Mei denotes the grade of white tea (a mid-grade of quality). As I prepare to brew this tea, the instructions surprise me. They direct the drinker to steep them in just-boiled water for six to ten minutes. While the timing is not so unusual for a white tea, the temperature of the water most certainly is. I usually steep white teas in cooler water than that to avoid scalding the often-delicate leaves. However, for this review, I shall follow the provided instructions, as the results might surprise me.
After boiling my cup of water and adding it to a table spoon of leaves, I let them steep for seven minutes, unsure about the wide range of time. The tea gave off a slightly smoky, slightly vegetal aroma. The finished cup, after the steep, certainly looks darker than most white teas I have previously consumed. It smells dark, too, and strong - for a white tea.
I take my first sip...and I am surprised, again. Due to the aroma of the wet leaves and the steeped tea, I expected a dark, possibly-astringent brew. Quite the opposite, as my tea tastes a tad weak for my liking. (I prefer my tea to be stronger than most.) Clearly, I should not have doubted the instructions and steeped it for longer! (That will be the next cup.) The flavors...this tea is incredibly smooth. The body tastes a bit brisk, yet it carries a bit of floral presence. The aftertastes leaves the mouth feeling fresh and clean, yet not so vegetal as a new green tea.
Curiosity and enjoyment drive me to prepare a second cup of this tea. For this second time, I use a bit more leaf (one and a half tablespoons) and steep it for ten minutes. The aroma of this second cup is a bit stronger, yet the color remains the same. The flavors, on the other hand, have intensified. I would never think to even hint at the word "weak" in describing this tea. However, "strong" seems to imply a certain "boldness" to the tea, which does not accurately fit. The intensity has simply grown, and the cup has become that much more enjoyable.
On my personal enjoyment scale, I would rate Teavivre's 2013 Fuding Shou Mei white tea cake an 89/100. Those who would enjoy this tea include all lovers of white teas, especially unflavored white teas. The cake aspect made this tea especially interesting to me, and it is possible to purchase an entire cake from Teavivre. (See below.)
Photo credit to Built from Ink and Tea.
Teavivre's Fuding Shou Mei White Tea Cake 2013 is available from the Teavivre website, here.
This review was unsolicited and uncompensated.
Text is copyright 2014, Built from Ink and Tea.