Sunday, September 18, 2011

Two Leaves and a Bud Organic White Peony

White Peony is a classic Chinese white tea, harvested early in the Spring before the buds have truly opened, then gently processed.  White Peony is a direct translation of the Mandarin bai mudan, which means "white peony."  According to the wiki article on White Peony, it's a very broad type of white tea from Fujian province in the Southeast of China.  In fact, Drum Mountain white, which I have had a long time ago, is a type of White Peony.  The tea itself generally has a soft, gentle taste, with delicate floral notes and a mild natural sweetness.

Two Leaves and a Bud is a high end tea company, selling both loose and bag tea (most if not all organic).  They are not cheap, but they do put out good tea, and offer some of the best bag tea I've found anywhere...actual full leaf tea in large pyramid-ish sachets that let the tea bloom as it steeps.  This is probably as close as you can get to loose tea without actually crossing over.  The high price tag is a stumbling block, but we usually find Two Leaves and a Bud on clearance at stores like Marshalls or TJ Maxx, and at $4 for a box of 15 high quality tea bags, I feel like I'm getting an acceptable deal.  My wife and I have also tried Two Leaves' Assam and Jasmine Green, both of which were excellent.  Perhaps my largest quibble with Two Leaves is for the price tag, I think I'd prefer to see estate teas, rather than homogenized blends.

So, then, Organic White Peony from Two Leaves and a Bud.  The box and website recommend brewing at a "light boil," which confuses the scientist in me...what is a "light boil?"  Water is either boiling or not.  I suppose what they mean is a hair under actually boiling...about 160-170 degrees Fahrenheit, or to follow my rule of thumb, steaming briskly but not bubbling.  Steeping times can vary with whites, but less than two minutes is a good benchmark.  I didn't try it here, but a lot of white teas respond well to multiple infusions.  But how does it taste?  I think this is the classic White Peony flavor...mild, with a little bit of floral notes, and some natural sweetness.  The sweetness grew on me throughout the cup, developing into a faint suggestion of honey.  The tea has a medium and very clean body, with no astringency at all.  Overall, clean and somewhat sweet, but could use more's not quite boring, but not exactly exciting.  Score: 80 (B-)