Sunday, December 18, 2016

Farmerleaf Moonlight White from Jing Mai (Yunnan)

This tea looks, smells, and tastes great.  Of course style preferences always come into play related to such judgments; someone else might not like it.  I can appreciate a broad range of teas but it's not as if I'm any more objective than most related to that.  I just experienced not liking one as much as most others of similar quality due to not preferring that style (an aromatic, relatively lightly oxidized and medium roasted oolong).

The tea is buds and leaves mixed (more in the vendor description, including a bit on processing), with those leaves silver with a dark back, a color pattern from a tea I loved earlier in the year, an Indonesian white.  Looking back on that post this tea shares some common ground; sweet and complex with a slight savory edge.

The scent is very sweet, and rich, with lots complexity coming across even in the smell, with just a hint of sundried tomato.  The first light infusion was similar, very bright, great sweetness, good complexity, with a trace of earthiness, even a faint hint of smoke, and a trace of that sundried tomato.  I'm guessing lots more will show up since that was just a light infusion to get the tea started.  Already the tea shows that full feel that rounds out the subtlety of some white teas well.  This tea just isn't faint or overly subtle; it won't be a challenge to pick out aspects.

On the next infusion things really do pick up.  A vegetal trace starts in, and the savory edge also strengthens.  It's not far off sundried tomato but the effect is almost a feel instead, or in the umami range common to Japanese green teas, but without anything like grass or seaweed flavors accompanying that.  The context for those is a lot of sweetness, with a very bright effect, possibly floral, but non-distinct related to that.  I'm not "gettting" a specific flower.

The sunflower seed richness common in Silver Needle style teas is also present, more of the background range.  A very light mineral and earthiness rounds out a lot of complexity in the experience, with the trace of smoke now so faint it may have transitioned to mineral instead.  It all balances together really well, and integrates as a great matching set of aspects.

a very light gold, drinks well brewed even lighter

On the next infusion the bright sweetness diminishes just a little and that earthier range drops back, with vegetal giving way to the sunflower seed range (which could be described as dried hay instead, or as different things, subtle as that aspect is).  Mineral doesn't pick up yet but it would seem normal for that to happen in a couple more infusions.

The tea is a bit light; it's white tea.  I'm not using long infusion times to give it more brewed strength, which would seem more typical for a Western style approach.  Stepping up brewed strength would work for Gongfu style as well, by just adding time.  I'm using 15 or 20 second infusions, not the flash brewing that would work well for lots of other types, Dan Cong, sheng pu'er, Wuyi Yancha, with those first two more or less requiring such an approach.

While I'm on that subject, I just tried two very nice Gopaldhara autumn harvest Darjeelings, black teas, and initially tasted them prepared Western style, then in comparison Gongfu style, and the results weren't so different.  Gongfu brewing shows the transitions better, which there is less of to note in most black teas, but both worked out similarly for those teas.

the tea, brewing

More of the same on the next infusion; still well balanced, a clean and complex tea.  It's so complex that someone could pass on a completely different flavors-list review and it would just be a matter of interpretation.  The sweetness and complexity relates to a soft floral element, and with a little more imagination all sorts of fruit range might be picked out, maybe some lighter type of melon, or in different directions from there.  It's odd for me to go there in description since I don't like most types of melons but I do like this tea.

All those aspects are in the normal range for white teas, and they fall into a great balance in this one.  I went a little heavier on the next infusion, lengthening the time, now out into the range of 45 seconds to a minute, and the fullness picks up.  The mineral undertone picks up strength made that way and the savory aspect gets a good bit stronger.  It is most like sundried tomato, but the effect is unique, the way it fills in also related to feel.

brewed leaves

That "feel" aspect is hard to describe though.  It's a full, soft tea but it includes just a touch of dryness, like one part of what comes across in black teas, without most of the related roughness or bite.  Of course it's paired with a completely different flavors range.  More oxidized white teas tend to lean towards black teas in character but this is really in it's own space.

That's about it for describing the tea, with the next two infusions more of the same.  Minerals keep picking up as infusion time lengthens, but the effect is still relatively full and clean; standard stuff for teas on this level.

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