When I opened the inner packaging to expose the leaves of this tea, I was astounded. The leaves were huge and not rolled up, but rather gently curved. They were beautiful. Of course, this meant that I had to use a larger, open infuser, rather than a tea ball or egg – I hated the idea of crushing the leaves. It was a bit difficult to gauge how much of this was equivalent to a spoonful of regular tiny curled-up leaves.
The instructions that come with the tea suggest using distilled or bottled water, but I have good quality tap water and that’s what I use for all my tea, so that’s what I used for this. The instructions also suggest heating the water to only 85 degrees C (185 degrees F), which is what I did. I steeped the tea for 4 minutes. It was quite pale after 4 minutes, but had a bit of a green aroma.
A sip of the tea reveals a slightly green taste as well – smooth, not bitter green, but still a little bit reminiscent of grass or herbs. A longer steeping increases the green aroma and taste – but it stays smooth. It’s not at all brisk, but quite delicate.
One thing to remember about white teas is that they are NOT necessarily lower in caffeine; in fact, some white teas can be higher in caffeine than black tea. So don’t let the delicate flavor fool you into thinking that this is a weak tea, suitable for evenings. It’s an early-afternoon tea, while you can still have caffeine.
Speaking of caffeine, the instructions also suggest that this tea is good for second steepings, which are typically much lower in caffeine than a first steeping of leaves. I have to say, though, that the flavor on steeping these leaves a second time was so mild as to be close to nonexistent, even upon seven and then eight minutes of steeping. There was only a faint hint of tea. So I’d stick to one steeping for each serving of this tea.
I didn’t feel that this tea needed any sugar at all, but you could add a little to it, and it wouldn’t hurt it. Of course white tea does not get any milk – horrors! In this case in particular, since the flavor was already somewhat delicate, I would not add much of anything to it – no lemon, no strongly flavored honeys.
In Nature describes this tea as:
This is a very delicate and mild blend of Fujian White teas. These leaves are aged and therefore they have a mature and deep taste which is a real treat for anyone who seeks the ultimate tea experience. This is a rare and limited blend, hardly seen outside China and once reserved for Chinese emperors alone. The health benefits from the White Teas are well documented, ranging from detoxifying properties to cancer-prevention. This natural privilege is now available to you direct from In Nature.
All in all, although I generally prefer a stronger flavor in tea, I would say that this was quite enjoyable, and certainly preparing the large leaves was enjoyable and made it feel somewhat ceremonial, more special than preparing most teas. If you have a glass teapot that you use for flowering teas, it would be fun to use these leaves in it as well.