After spending six years living and sourcing teas in China, every now and again, we stumble upon a golden egg. Those of you who caught the 2016 Baxian Dancong, the 1990’s aged Dancong from Lin, the 2019 Wild Silver Needle from Taimushan, or even the 2022 Mudan Wang know how rare of a find these teas are. Well, we are excited to release a limited amount of another incredibly rare find, a tea we really didn’t believe could be real: the 30 year Shoumei.
As we have been very vocal about our mistrust of white teas before 2007 in our Tea Soup podcast, as it can be logically inferred from the research of white tea production, domestic and international reception, and more, that aged white tea was a very rare commodity until about 2007. Thus, any white tea from before this date is incredibly uncommon, though often faked. However, we have been visiting Fuding a few times a year since 2019, and after making some real friends with the tea makers, last autumn our friend Zhang (a Fuding native) shared with us some of his very special reserve: a Shoumei from 1993.
Everyone at the tea table became very quiet when he pulled this tea out, and all the life-long local Fuding tea drinkers shared stories about drinking aged tea this mature. One said that he had never had a tea so old and yet so clean, and talked about his first experience drinking some poorly stored 20 or 30 year shoumei and how it completely upset his stomach. Another friend immediately asked how much he could buy. We managed to walk away with about 200 grams, though it still cost us an arm and a leg.
Our goal here is not to make a profit from this tea, but rather to offer the world the experience of drinking a truly mature Fuding White Tea, a touchstone one can use on their tea journey to compare truly aged white teas with the so often faked and mislabeled aged white teas.
We only sell this tea in 14gram increments and will likely limit the quantity any single customer can purchase (again the goal is to share this tea with people and not to hoard it).
The leaves are all broken, which is common for white tea stored loose this long. There is a natural coloration to the leaves, some brown, some green, this is a very good sign that this tea was made properly and naturally aged. Very little about the way the leaves look suggest its magnificent age.
The smell off the warm leaves offers the first hint of true maturity, there is the faintest hint of dried flowers behind the forefront aromas of old wood and brittle books. The liquor is a deep amber without too many reddish hues, and the aroma off the wet leaves transforms into cedar wood, pinesap, and that often used protean term 'a forest after the rain'.
The tea is thick in the mouth, soft on the tongue, and has a distinctly medicinal taste (dried roots and dates) under the slightly menthelating sweetness. As with most teas of this vintage, the defining characteristic is the chaqi, how the tea feels in the body. While this is highly subjective, suffice it to say that we greatly appreciate the floating calm serenity that steals over us as we drink this tea.
Please note that has this tea was made so long ago, there may be small parts of other Fuding plants found in the leaves (we found a dried blade of hay in our recent brew) these are likely present due to different picking and processing standards before the white tea boom of 2007.