Country of Origin: China
Region: Fujian Province
Shipping Port: Fuzhou
Grade: Sowmee Grade #1
Manufacture Type: White Tea - naturally withered
Cup Characteristics: Delicious toasty character with body reminiscent of Oolongs. Lingering taste that encourages another cup
Infusion: Tending orange red with golden notes
White tea is very different from other types of tea such as green or black tea. White tea leaves are plucked from a special varietal tea bush called Narcissus or chaicha bushes. Secondly the leaves are not steamed or pan-fired (the process used in green teas) or fermented and fired (the process used in black tea). The leaves are naturally withered and dried in the sun. If mechanical drying is required it is a baking process at temperatures less that 40'C. Thirdly only special 'two leaves and a bud' are selected. These leaves must show a very light green almost gray white color and be ideally be covered with velvet peach fuzz down. Sowmee is one of the lower grades of white tea, but despite this it has the properties attributed to white teas. The leaves for Sowmee are plucked during late April, May and June. The lack of processing and hand selection is evident in the leaf appearance of Sowmee as it is somewhat mixed and tending flaky and flat. This Sowmee has a more pronounced taste profile - almost oolong tea-like. Many white tea drinkers prefer this cup in that there is a 'substance' to the taste compared to the delicate nuances of other white teas.
Researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute in Oregon tested white teas on selected rats to test for the ability of white tea to inhibit natural mutations in bacteria and to protect them from colon cancer. Interestingly, white teas were found to be more effective than green tea in inhibiting the early stages of cancer but researchers pointed out that their study was on rats and the effects should not be extrapolated to humans. The researchers also found that white tea contains higher levels of caffeine compared to green tea brewed under the same conditions. They suggested that this could occur because white tea oxidizes during withering whereas in green tea the oxidation process is stopped early in the tea making process by steaming or panfiring.
The western cosmetic industry is beginning to make a white tea extract to be worn underneath your moisturizer. The reason is that it seems white tea has been shown to be more effective in mopping up free radicals that cause skin to sag. One tea expert has been quoted as saying 'unlike black or green tea, it isn't rolled or steamed, this preserves its antioxidant properties'.
Hot tea brewing method: When preparing by the cup, this tea can be used repeatedly (la chinoise)- about 3 times. The secret is to use water that is about 180'F or 80'C. Place 1-2 teaspoons of leaves in your cup and let the tea steep for 3 minutes. Then begin enjoying a cup of enchantment - do not remove the leaves from the cup. Once the water level is low - add more water, and so on - until the tea flavor is exhausted. Milk or sugar will mask the delicate characters of this tea and are not recommended. Look at the pattern of the leaves - they foretell life.
Iced tea brewing method: It is not customary to make iced tea from white tea, nevertheless if you wish to do so we would recommend the following method: Place 6 teaspoons of tea into a teapot or heat resistant pitcher. Pour 1 1/4 cups of freshly boiled water over the tea. Steep for 5 minutes. Quarter fill a serving pitcher with cold water. Pour the tea into your serving pitcher straining the leaves. Add ice and top up the pitcher with cold water. Garnish and sweeten to taste. [A rule of thumb when preparing fresh brewed iced tea is to double the strength of hot tea since it will be poured over ice and diluted with cold water.]