Our Shou Mei comes from the home of white tea: Fuding in northern Fujian Province. We had the tea pressed into a shape locals call "chocolate" as it looks like a chocolate bar with 8 connected pieces at 5 grams each. Just the right size to break off and start brewing. The other purpose is to disrupt some of the cells during the pressing process so they release their contents on the surface. Those molecules then slowly oxidize creating even more interesting flavors and what locals call the sunshine feeling.
Shou Mei aficionados like to talk about the great balance between alert and calm aided by this tea. That probably explains why monks in China prefer Shou Mei for hours of daily mediation without drowsiness. The balance carries over into the flavor with lightly caramelized honey and lotus leaves but not too much of either one. The texture is pure smoothness without even a hint of bitterness or astringency.
It seems like everyone in Fuding is either involved in white tea production somehow or at very least loves drinking it. Even local food reflects white tea’s balance. The most famous dish, rou pian, is a refreshing soup with sort of elongated pork meatballs, lightly spicy peppers and a touch of vinegar that sounds strong but isn’t. Even the local fermented vegetables attain a balance between sour and salty that can easily get out of hand in other areas of China.
With a lightly sweet finish and mild flavor, white tea has a wide variety of friendly food parings akin to white wine—whitefish (halibut, grouper, cod, whiting, flounder), chicken, mashed potatoes, stir-fry vegetables, tofu dishes, pound cake and milder ice creams.
Storage: Store unused portions away from light in a moderately humid area between 70-80F/21-27C.
Brewing water: Earth2O brand mineral water produces the finest results. Soft water, distilled water and hard water will ruin this tea. Tap water varies wildly and is best avoided as well. If you don't have Earth2O water available please see good substitutions on our water page.
Brewing temperature: 100C/212F
Brewing method: 3-5g tea leaves (~1.5 heaping Tablespoons), 60-80ml (~1/4-1/3 cup) water each time with quick infusions in a Chinese gaiwan or a small pot.
Notes: Small quick infusions showcase the changing flavors of each cup. Longer brewing times in larger quantities of water end up more homogeneous, but still very good results.