Peter On Tea: White Tea

Peter Guagy is a friend of ours who has a great wine background and is excessively talented at describing his experience of tea.

Three White Teas

“I struggled with writing about the three white teas below, because they were so elusive, with tastes that seemed to pop in and out of existence like sub-atomic particles.  I kept trying them again and again hoping to capture in words the sensations I was tasting. They tease with hints and suggestions that left me a little perplexed. In the end, I realized the tea was the master and I had to submit in order to appreciate it’s charms.  Having submitted my time, my attention and my ego, I patiently contemplated the monastic Buddhist origins of these teas.  They are meditative and complex, refined and illusory.  They demand that you sit back and take a moment to wonder. Not drinks for the high-powered business lunch.”

Drum Mountain White cloud

“From Northern Fujian province in China, this tea comes from the area of the historic Drum Mountain Monastery. The bud and the leaves have a white down color that reminds you that this tea is picked by hand.

The steeped tea liquor is light, with a greenish tinge and a very subtle nose.  Graceful on the palette it has an ever-so slight nuttiness that resolves to sweetness on the finish.  The mouth feel has a hint of the distilled essence of a split-pea soup, rich and full – yet still a cloud-like lightness. Thoughtful and very reserved.”

White Peony

“The raw leaf with an unopened bud and two leaves, has the slight scent of linseed oil, a smell that reminds me of an opening night of an exhibition of fresh oil paintings.

The liquor color is a light greenish yellow, with a nose that has an herbal note, with white asparagus tones.  It is rich and elegant on the palette, with a hint of citrus and cardamom and a fuller mouth feel with a floral tone that comes to a sweet white tea finish.   This tea is delicious and meditative, like light incense on the mouth.”

Silver Needles White Tea

“A refined tea of the unopened bud picked in early spring – the unsteeped leaf has a fuller scent than most white teas, yet is probably the most delicate of the three.  It also needed a longer steeping time to reveal its nuances.

The tea liquor has a delicate eggshell off-white color, with pine needles and pine nuts on the nose.  The pine nut element lingers on the palette as well, with a delicate tannin structure.  This tea is so slight that it truly demands your whole attention to pick up the different notes – beautiful.”


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