The large needles of this white tea are pretty when dry, and expand enormously when brewed; make sure you start with a large infuser or a larger size tea sack. You want this tea to be able to brew to its fullest!
The beautiful leaves are complemented by the copious amounts of dried fruit, and the taste once brewed bears this out; one can taste individual berry, peach, and citrus flavors. The fruit pieces expand when brewed, too, and I have to admit that I am tempted to pick out and nibble on the raspberry bits.
The tea itself is quite light-tasting, and can stand to be brewed a bit on the long side – Teas Etc.’s web site tips for white tea suggest 3 to 6 minutes, and I’d go with 5 or 6 minutes for this tea. Be sure not to use boiling water – the leaves will taste bitter if scorched! If you have an electric pot that only goes to boiling, then the BunRab method for getting water down to the temperature for white tea is simple: take a 12-ounce mug of boiling water, and throw in two medium ice cubes – poof!, you have two 6-ounce cups’ worth of 180 degree water (or, of course, the full mug to brew for yourself, if you drink tea in the quantities I do.)
The tea doesn’t need sweetener, but a bit of real sugar will make the fruit flavors stronger. If you ice this tea – and I do; any tea that I drink in the summer gets iced! – you’ll definitely want to add a bit of sugar, since otherwise the fruit flavors get quite muted when cold. If you use a slice of lemon in the iced tea, it’s going to be very lemony and wash out the other fruit flavors, but a slice of orange gives a better balance and still leaves the peach flavor detectable.
Teas Etc. describes this tea as:
A seductive combination of jasmine silver needle, berries and lemon grass creates a soft, sultry brew.
Sultry Summer White Tea Type: White Tea
Ingredients: jasmine silver needle, raspberry pieces, peach pieces, lemon grass, orange peel
Origin of Sultry Summer White : Fujian, China (base tea)
White teas can be quite variable in the amount of caffeine they contain – one shouldn’t automatically assume that all white teas are lower in caffeine than green and black teas. Teas Etc. has a little scale of bars for the caffeine strength, and rates this tea as being about a third of the way between zero and coffee – enough caffeine to keep you awake, if you’re sensitive to it.
One more iced tea tip: as I write this, in early August, fresh raspberries are on sale at farm stands and supermarkets. If you buy lots, you can freeze them by spreading them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and putting them in the freezer; after they’re fully frozen, they can be gathered into a container or freezer bag, but if you try to do the initial freezing that way, what you’ll get is a solid lump of berry, not individual frozen ones. And you want individual frozen ones, because when you’re making iced tea, using a couple of frozen berries as well as your ice cubes accents the fruit flavors in the tea nicely, and gives you a great little treat to nibble on, mostly defrosted, by the time you finish the glass of tea.