After some brisk and flavorful brews for the past few Tea Times, it’s time for something more delicate. So, I went through my Yezi Tea samples and decided on their White Peony Master Grade White Tea. This brand of White Peony (also known as Bai Mu Dan) is grown in the Jian’ou County of China’s Fujian province and harvested during the spring. The young leaves are then gently dried in the sun on bamboo trays. No doubt this process – plus the fact that white tea isn’t oxidized like black, oolong, and green teas are – gives this tea its celebrated delicate aroma and flavor. The Master Grade level also indicates the highest possible quality for a White Peony tea. So, let’s have a cup or two (or three) of White Peony together, shall we?
Yezi’s Description: “When White Peony tea leaves dry, they twist into small and irregular floral patterns. The similarity of the tea to flowers is readily noticed once again in the exquisite floral notes it emanates during the brewing process… The brew is a natural yellow color and has distinct notes of almond. The tea is low in caffeine and makes for a quiet, pleasant, and meditative evening companion.”
Ingredients: Bai Mu Dan white tea leaves
Steeping Instructions: Use 1 tsp of tea for every 2 oz of water. Heat water to 185 degrees Fahrenheit / 85 degrees Celsius, and steep for 1 minute. Add 15 seconds for each subsequent brew.
Multiple Brews?: 3 to 4 times
Bagged or Loose Leaf?: Loose leaf
Caffeine Level: Low
High-quality White Peony tea is known for its downy, gray-green leaves and abundance of unopened buds known as tips. (Lower grades contain thinner, brownish-green leaves and fewer tips. Check out this article to see photos that show the difference.) So, right away, I can tell why this White Peony sample from Yezi Tea is ranked at Master Grade. Each teaspoonful contains twists of fine, sage green leaves and strong, silvery tips. Many of the leaves have a soft, downy underside that’s velvety to the touch. White Peony is also fluffy and well-stretched, so fewer leaves will fit on your measuring spoon. This explains White Peony’s higher leaf-to-water ratio compared to other teas.
When dry, White Peony’s aroma suits its delicate appearance. A subtle floral aroma with hints of plants and almond drifts out of the package when I open it. I think I even detect a whiff of caramel. Once brewed, the liquid carries a mild floral fragrance with a trace of seaweed. I’m not crazy about the seaweed undercurrent, but it’s still a pleasant-smelling tea. Not a permeating jasmine-like perfume, but gentle and fresh.
Despite the tea’s high leaf-to-water ratio, 1 teaspoon of dry tea for every 2 ounces of water sounds like a lot of leaves. So, I decide to steep 2 teaspoons of White Peony in 8 ounces of 185-degree water for 1 minute. The infusion results in a faint yellow-green – almost colorless! The flavor is there, though: a mellow blossoming of floral, seaweed, and almond. Again, I could do without the seaweed note, but it’s quiet enough that it doesn’t overpower the more attractive flavors.
To my delight, White Peony improves with each subsequent brew. With Steep #2 (1 minute 15 seconds), the liquid turns a brighter gold, and the seaweed tinge dissipates to let the floral and almond notes shine through. As it cools, the tea develops a slightly sweet aftertaste that reminds me of the caramel I thought I’d smelled earlier. Yay! Steep #3 (1 minute 30 seconds) introduces a buttery texture that enhances the flavor combination even more, especially once the tea’s down to room temperature.
My fifth and final cup of White Peony steeps for about 2 minutes. The flavor bouquet is mostly floral and plant now, but still mellow. No bitterness, no astringency – simply soothing from sip to finish. The ambiance this tea creates reminds me of floating down a river: peaceful and serene, with the soft trickling of water, the flicker of sunlight on the surface, and a touch of mist. Ahhhh, yes. I can see myself meditating or relaxing with a good book while savoring this.
Harmony in your cup! Yes, “harmony” is the word I’d use to describe Yezi Tea’s White Peony Master Grade White Tea. Though light and more refined compared to other teas we’ve covered here, it’s flavorful to the last drop. I don’t care for the seaweed tang in the first brew, but the floral, almond, and caramel notes complement each other so well in the later steeps that I no longer mind the first one’s odd taste, since I know what’s coming next. 😉 White Peony is also such a pretty tea to look at and touch because of its unique silk-down texture. It’s a hair on the expensive side (almost $10 US for 1 ounce), but the quality and delightfulness make it worth every penny.
Grade: 9 / 10
- Tea Drinkers Who: Like white, green, or decaffeinated teas
- Time of Day and Year: Spring afternoons and evenings
- Possible Book Pairings: White Peony offers a sense of comfort during turbulent historical fiction stories such as Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See and Ursula K. Le Guin’s Lavinia. It also makes a good companion for journal-writing or browsing through books on the craft of writing, like Judy Reeves’ A Writer’s Book Of Days.
You can purchase White Peony Master Grade White Tea directly from Yezi Tea here.
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In addition to being a tea enthusiast, Sara Letourneau is an avid reader and a writer who… well, enjoys writing! Currently she’s working on a novel, and she writes book reviews and articles on the craft of writing. She’s also a published poet with works available in various print and online publications. Visit Sara at her personal blog, Facebook, or Twitter.
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