Results: Every sip leaves your mouth watering for more with its remarkable balance of savory body and sweet juicy finish. Delicate but complex, this tea will appeal to roasted oolong & pu’erh fans alike. I’m drinking the hell out of it! If you’ve never had a Shou Mei, you don’t know what your missing.
(PLEASE NOTE that this review was revised from 4 stars to its proper 5 stars due to a lack of knowledge on my part and some helpful education from Yunnan Sourcing)
Vendor: Yunnan Sourcing ($5.00 off any order by using my link here)
Tea: 2013 Shou Mei White Tea Cake
Origin: Fuding, Fujian Province, China
Tasting: 14g / 185°/ 8oz / R10-10-15-20-30-45-60-90-105-120 (seconds) | bring to boil & simmer 10 minutes
Gong-Go Gear: Tiesta Tea Brewmaster (get yours via my Amazon Affiliate Link)
Average number of infusions: 9
Being my first Shou Mei and tea cake I didn’t know what to expect. When I opened up the beautiful wrapper my first thought was this looked like something out of my beloved compost pile. The leaves were a mixture of dark brown to light grey and though pleasant to behold, I had no idea what it was going to taste like.
Yunnan Sourcing had a wonderful quote on their website so I was hoping for the best:
From what I gather Shou Mei is relatively new and there’s not much information out there other than its the same Da Bai varietal used in the production of Silver Needles (Bai Hao Yin Zhen) and White Peony (Bai Mu Dan) both of which are prized for their excellence and products of Fuding. One thing I did learn, aged Shou Mei is what everyone wants, and they are not easy to find. I guess I was lucky to have gotten this one and glad I did.
New to tea cakes, I learned quite a bit during the course of this review. One of which was to use a large vessel. After removing the wet leaves for a photograph, I found some of the cake was still compressed. The infuser I used didn’t have enough room for bloom. I also used my normal green/white tea infuser. After tasting this tea its flavor profile is more oolong/pu’erh-ish than green or white, and I will now use my oolong infusers so as not to influence the more delicate notes of my greens and whites. Most importantly, when you think the leaves are spent your wrong – boil up those puppies.
Another interesting thing happened with this tea I was not expecting. A bit of foreign matter introduced itself during the final boil. After chatting with Yunnan Sourcing about this, I learned it’s not uncommon with sun-dried teas. All it takes is a little wind and boom, you’ve got something you didn’t expect. Personally, I think tea producers could use some kind of mesh covering. However, as a cook, I know that “shit” happens and won’t go into details on whats inadvertently ended up in the dishes I’ve served upon occasion (please don’t turn down my dinner party invites now – I’ve never poisoned anyone). Luckily I’m not really squeamish about such things and frequently pick follow food off the floor and plop them into my mouth. How does that saying go: what doesn’t hurt you only makes you stronger.
All that said, if you new to sun-dried teas be warned. Yunnan Sourcing reminded me they have a clear disclaimer telling their customers about “foreign matter” and once they reminded me I was like, “yup, that makes sense.” Now that I know it can happen, I won’t be surprised in the future.
All infusions of this tea (I did nine) surpassed my expectations. The balance of woodsy mushroom savory body followed by a sweet juicy finish made for a delightfully complex tea. Yet it was still light and refreshing – there was nothing overpowering about this tea; it was perfectly balanced.
Hearing that it was common to boil a Shou Mei after, I took my leaves with 24 ounces of water, put them in a pot and set them to boil. Once at a rolling, I then covered and let simmer for 10 minutes. Normally I end up making iced teas from a boil – don’t know how much I’ll be doing that anymore. The resulting brew was better than all the rest. There wasn’t a hint of bitterness, and it brought out a pronounced cocoa note that made this tasting one of my favorites.
Dank and forest sweet.
Beautiful cake with both tippy and mature leaves.
Light to deep forest brown
Wonderfully balanced savory mushroom forest notes followed with a sweet juicy finish.
Succulent mouthwatering goodness.
Gong-Go Rating Infusion 1 :
Balanced flavor profile somewhere between a pu’erh and a roasted oolong.
Gong-Go Rating Infusion 2 – 3:
Earthy savory mushroom head with a sweet mouthwatering finish
Gong-Go Rating Infusion 4 – 5:
Much lighter body picking up some floral notes on the head,
still earthy mushroom with a more mineral finish
Gong-Go Rating Infusion 6-9:
Even woodsier with some campfire smoke and still juicy as can be
Gong-Go Rating Infusion Boil:
Complex dank forest and cocoa with brown sugar sweetness