Today I decided to take Rita (who is briefly in town from the Peace Corps) to one of my favorite local haunts, Shang Tea! It is so nice to have a local place I can go, talk tea, drink good tea prepared in a way I prefer (gongfu style) and just relax. I do not have many place outside my bedroom tea lair where I feel I can just chill, so I was glad to share it with Ben's sister.
And since I was there paying a visit, I thought it would be fun to look at one of their teas I have not reviewed yet! I had to give it a thought, which is a tea I have at home and have not written about yet (I really need to re-up my stock) and realized I had not looked at Rainbow Peony! What makes this tea special is it is a white tea, but instead of being plucked and processed in spring it was plucked and processed in autumn (seasonally correct!) plus it has a bit of age on it, being from 2011. Plus the leaves are beautiful, full of a rainbow of colors! The aroma is fluffy! Ok, the leaves are just really fluffy and fuzzy and I was sniffing so hard I got trichomes up my nose. The actual aroma is a blend of wildflower honey, aster flowers, a touch of crisp lettuce and hay. There is also a gentle note of pollen and peony flower. The aroma is very evocative of the end of summer where everything seems to have a touch of gold and warmth, like it is always late afternoon.
Wow, the wet leaves are floral! Notes of peony and aster, wildflower and a touch of honeysuckle. Alongside this burst of flowers is sweet honey, broken sun warmed hay, melon, and green grapes. The liquid is heavy note of melon and honeysuckle with undertones of hay and a touch of lettuce and grapes. It is sweet while also being green and fresh smelling, I kinda love it.
That first steep is something else, sometimes with white teas the first steep can be a little subtle (I have heard many people say they think white tea is boring because they don't get past the first steep) but this one is intense from the very start. Immediately my mouth is filled with a smooth honey and wildflower sweetness, which then transfers to clover blossoms, aster, and a distinct white grape sweetness. The texture becomes almost juicy reflecting the fruit-like quality. Finish with a blend of hay, lettuce, and melon rind with a lingering sweet honey aftertaste.
The second steep brings beautiful amber colored tea, with an aroma that smells of golden raisins and honey with a gentle wildflower and pollen quality. This steep is soo smooth in the mouth, thick without being mouth coating, almost velvety, one of my favorite textures for a tea to have. The taste combines wildflowers, golden raisins, and honey with a finish of crisp and cooling lettuce and melon rind. Like the first steep the aftertaste is a lingering honey.
The third steep pretty much bids farewell to any crisp and cool green notes of lettuce and melon rind, instead having primarily notes of honey and grapes with a gentle distant spice of lilies. The mid brings in notes of honeysuckle and peony, and the finish is aster flowers, pollen, and fresh broken hay. This is a tea that is perfect for drinking on a lazy afternoon, even though I covered it gongfu style it also takes well to bowl steeping, I have enjoyed it in that fashion many times.
This tea was purchased by me.