CUP CHARACTERISTICS: Delicious toasty character with body reminiscent of Oolongs. Lingering taste that encourages another cup.
INGREDIENTS: White tea.
INGREDIENTS FROM: China
GRADE(S): Spring Grade 1
ANTIOXIDANT LEVEL: High
CAFFEINE LEVEL: Low
INFUSION: Tending orange red with golden notes
White tea is very different from other types of tea such as green or black tea. White tea leaves are plucked from a special varietal tea bush called Narcissus or chaicha bushes. Secondly the leaves are not steamed or pan-fired (the process used in green teas) or fermented and fired (the process used in black tea). The leaves are naturally withered and dried in the sun. If mechanical drying is required it is a baking process at temperatures less that 40'C. Thirdly only special 'two leaves and a bud' are selected. These leaves must show a very light green almost gray white color and be ideally be covered with velvet peach fuzz down. Sowmee is one of the lower grades of white tea, but despite this it has the properties attributed to white teas. The leaves for Sowmee are plucked during late April, May and June. The lack of processing and hand selection is evident in the leaf appearance of Sowmee as it is somewhat mixed and tending flaky and flat. This Sowmee has a more pronounced taste profile - almost oolong tea-like. Many white tea drinkers prefer this cup in that there is a 'substance' to the taste compared to the delicate nuances of other white teas.
Researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute in Oregon tested white teas on selected rats to test for the ability of white tea to inhibit natural mutations in bacteria and to protect them from colon cancer. Interestingly, white teas were found to be more effective than green tea in inhibiting the early stages of cancer but researchers pointed out that their study was on rats and the effects should not be extrapolated to humans. The researchers also found that white tea contains higher levels of caffeine compared to green tea brewed under the same conditions. They suggested that this could occur because white tea oxidizes during withering whereas in green tea the oxidation process is stopped early in the tea making process by steaming or panfiring.
The western cosmetic industry is beginning to make a white tea extract to be worn underneath your moisturizer. The reason is that it seems white tea has been shown to be more effective in mopping up free radicals that cause skin to sag. One tea expert has been quoted as saying 'unlike black or green tea, it isn't rolled or steamed, this preserves its antioxidant properties'.
IDEAL BREWING TEMPERATURE: 85ºC/185ºF. For Food Safety reasons bring water to 100ºC/212ºF and let it cool down to 85ºC/185ºF.
HOT BREWING METHOD:
Bring filtered or freshly drawn cold water to a rolling boil. Place 1 slightly heaping teaspoon of loose tea for each 7-9oz / 200-260ml of fluid volume in the teapot. Pour the boiling water into the teapot. Cover and let steep for 3-7 minutes according to taste (the longer the steeping time the stronger the tea).
ICED TEA BREWING METHOD (Pitcher): (To Make 1 Liter/Quart):
Place 6 slightly heaping teaspoons of loose tea or 6 tea bags into a teapot or heat resistant pitcher. Using filtered or freshly drawn cold water, boil and pour 1¼ cups/315ml over the tea. Steep for 5 minutes. Quarter fill a serving pitcher with cold water. Pour the tea into your serving pitcher straining the leaves or removing the tea bags. Add ice and top-up the pitcher with cold water. A rule of thumb when preparing fresh brewed iced tea is to increase the strength of hot tea since it will be poured over ice and diluted with cold water. (Note: Some luxury quality teas may turn cloudy when poured over ice. This is a sign of luxury quality and nothing to worry about!)