Ever heard of Charcoal Roasted White Tea? This phrase is a bit of a misnomer, as the teas usually aren't exactly roasted. What's really happening is that the final stage in white tea production requires the tea to be completely dried out. Traditionally this was done in bamboo baskets over ash-covered charcoal, while more modernly (since the late 90s) this has been done in electric ovens or heated rooms.
The question we want to ask and answer in this sample box is simple: is traditionally charcoal-dried white tea superior in mouthfeel and flavor to that of oven dried tea?
We have secured a small amount of Wild Shoumei (a treat in and of itself) from our organic Taimushan producer Zhu. His garden is beautiful, his trees are tall, and everything is made by himself, his wife, and his mother. One of these teas has been traditionally charcoal-conditioned while the other dried by more modern means.
While we don't wish to influence your own experience too much, we will share what Zhu's wife had to say on the difference between Charcoal-conditioned and Oven baked teas: the charcoal-dried teas are more suited for long-term aging, while the oven-dried teas will change more quickly over the next few years.
That said, we will be releasing a small amount of this tea now, and saving a larger portion to age over the coming years, as the teas two years from now will be indelibly different from the teas today, if you're curious about this experiment, try out one of these limited sample boxes for yourself!