Tea: 2016 Wild Harvest Shoumei (荒野寿眉) Type: Shoumei, Autumn Harvested Fuding White Tea Harvest: Autumn 2016 Press Date: June 2022 Region: Taimushan, Fuding, China Producer: Master Zhang Tasting Notes: cream, sugar cookies, sandal wood, spring lilies,
This rather rare find was stored and curated for us by our Taimushan farmer Zhang and his partner Jinzhi. The leaves all come from tall (2-3 meter high) spindly tea trees in Jinzhi's ancestral tea garden on the slopes of the Taimushan mountain range. Picked, sun-dried, and charcoal bake conditioned, this tea has been stored loose in factory condition until Late Spring of 2022, when we sampled it and commissioned these cakes.
The leaves are large, the stems are plenty, and there is even a considerable amount of buds. These are all excellent components for an aged shoumei: the leaves provide a floral fragrance and thick mouthfeel, the stems offer up mineral sweetness, while the buds give this tea an incredible creamy complexity. The leaves have a natural floral fragrance when dry, but exude a rich resinous wood aroma when warmed.
The brew is instantly creamy, a pale gold that can brew richer and darker if left to steep. There is a soft but thick mouthfeel that coats the tongue and the roof of the mouth, leaving a tingling sweetness on the tongue and back of throat. There overriding floral fragrance to be found in the leaves and in the tea is the soft, slightly waxy, aroma of lily flowers. This subtle floral note lasts through much of the session.
Depending on how well broken up these leaves have been from the cake, the sessions tend to be longer than usual. The leaves are larger and steep more slowly (lend themselves well toward boiling this tea), which means that it is very patient when unveiling its flavors (in Chinese, this is called being 耐泡 patient steeps).
We suggest comparing this 2016 aged shoumei to its younger cousins, the 2018 and the 2021 shoumei, both custom pressed from loose material picked, processed, and stored by Master Zhang. .
As with all our white teas, we brew 6 grams in a 100-120ml gaiwan with water right off the boil. You can experiment with different water temperatures, cooler temps give the tea a little more floral nots, higher temps bring our more umami.