Thursday, 15 December 2011

does white tea intimidate you?

an entirely unrelated plant that reminded me of white tea

Like I said last week, I'm going to keep bringing up the topic of white tea until I feel like I have a better grasp of how to make it more accessible for tea newcomers and the tea curious. I've mentioned the Google+ Hangout before, and this last week I asked the others taking part about their take on this topic.

Got a lot of positive feedback for even bringing the topic up, and I wanted to share a few of the ideas that  I liked. First of all, no matter what other information is gleaned, the early favourite for 'best introductory white tea' is clearly Pai Mu Tan (or Bai Mu Dan or White Peony, as it's sometimes called). 

The general consensus is that, for a white tea, this is a much more accesible tea than some other possibilities. I can certainly agree with that. Actually, David Galli from the Portland Tea Enthusiasts' Alliance had an interesting perspective, and it helped reinforce what I'd already thought about this type of tea. He said he was introduced to them as an intimidating tea, and avoided them for the longest time. Now he drinks them as much as any other teas. 

He suggested trying a Tai Mu Ye Sheng white tea from Jing Tea, which you can find here: Tai Mu Ye Sheng. I can't personally recommend it, because I haven't tried it. Nevertheless, the description has made me very thirsty.

But the fact that white tea intimidates some tea drinkers is exactly why I keep coming back to this topic. There's absolutely no need to let the mere thought of white tea freak you out. I'll be going into more detail about brewing it in a later post, but it's really not a big deal. If I can do it, anyone can. Really.

Another opinion that some members of the hangout had, which I think it's important to voice here, is that the ridiculously high price for some white tea makes it hard to rationalise buying the stuff. More than one person said, 'If I'm going to spend that sort of dosh, I'd rather get an above-average Oolong or decent Matcha.' I can see their point. I don't necessarily agree, but I do understand that position.

May-King Tsang (of May King Tea) said that she found that people who were already accustomed to drinking green tea transitioned more easily to white tea. She also suggested a Silver Needle white tea with a bit of jasmine in it. I might actually try that when I introduce people to this type of tea in person. As long as the jasmine wasn't overpowering. 

And finally, Laine Petersen said that she's noticed women gravitate more easily to white tea. She insisted that she didn't want to perpetuate any stereotypes. The opinion that a few shared was that some men already had enough of a grudge against the assumed femininity of tea drinking. That a woman was more likely to go for such a subtle tea. Again, I can definitely see this.

We keep coming back to that. The subtlety of white tea. Like David said: the way in which white tea was talked about made the whole topic intimidating. I'd like to try and help counteract that. Any ideas about how I might help make that happen?


  1. As a tea lover, tea of any sort is non-intimidating. Though I was unprepared for the flavor of Yak Butter Tea. I am a firm believer the palate dictates the appreciation of the tea. This also can be affected by many things including my mood. When I choose to enjoy a white tea I am anticipating the subtlty and light nuance of the tea. It is not my daily go to choice or one that a good Oolong, Darjeeling or Assam craving would be satistified by. Though more expensive it holds a place in my tea collection.

  2. Yak Butter Tea? Oy...don't know how well I'd handle that one.

    Yes Jo, I'd have to say that you've explained my position on white tea perfectly. Rarely the first thing I reach for, but it certainly has its place.

    David Galli mentioned over on Tea Trade that he's experimented with excessively long steeping times while brewing white tea (7 minutes...12 minutes, or more?)...& he says it results in 'delicious results'.

    Will certainly have to try that, as well.

  3. Is that tea in the photo a golden rain tree, Koelreuteria paniculata? This is a plant that I would view as an infamous plant. It is an invasive species here in the eastern U.S., and it shows up such scandalous places such as the white house lawn. I recommend against people planting them. Why does it remind you of white tea?

  4. Just the appearance. I'm not nearly as knowledgeable about types of plants as you are Alex. The colour simply looked like white tea from a distance.

    I don't even know how I could find out what type of tree it is. Maybe more photos up close?