As I may have mentioned, I’m hosting a party Sunday where the refreshments will be in the form of an English afternoon tea. I thought I had all my tea choices made, but then I got my Art of Tea shipment, which changed everything. From the moment I opened up the White Summer Rain package, I knew it would give Adagio’s White Pear a run for it’s money, and thus the inception of The Great White Taste-Off, held last night in my living room. Far be it from me to serve my guests any less than the best I have to offer!
So last night around 8pm, I lit up a teapot warmer, heated some water to just under boiling, and prepared two glass mugs. The tea will be prepared in a glass teapot on Sunday, so I figured that glass mugs were the right choice to brew in. I used unbleached filter bags for the tea, for practicality (I don’t have two of the same type of infuser, and wanted each tea to be steeped the same way). I used about 2 tsp of tea in each bag, and brewed half cups at a time. I kept a teapot of hot water warm over the tealight warmer…the lovely thing about white tea is no boiling water is needed for infusions, so I could conduct the taste test from the comfort of my armchair while watching TV. Here are my notes, and the results.
1st Infusion – 5 minutes at just under boiling (I didn’t use a thermometer – I won’t have time to when brewing on Sunday, and wanted the conditions to match)
Adagio’s White Pear: Thick in the mouth, light pear flavor but deep. A very subtle pear scent greets the nose. Somewhat astringent, leaving a dry feeling in the mouth, but not terribly unpleasant. I love the subtly-sweet taste of the pear, which is set off by a lovely honey undertone. The color is a deep, clear yellow, like thin fresh honey, and beautiful to look at.
AOT’s White Summer Rain: A thinner brew, lighter and very refreshing. The taste of the tea isn’t as strong as the scent, but the melon/fruity scent really adds to the overall experience of the flavor. No astringency whatsoever – and it’s a bit sweeter than the White Pear. Overall highly enjoyable. The color is a fairly light yellow, crisp and clear.
2nd infusion – 7 minutes with water still steaming quite a bit from the teapot warmer.
Adagio’s White Pear: Still quite a thick brew, and slightly more astringent, but the flavor is crisper and lighter – the pear really shining through this time. The sweetness is enhanced and quite pronounced, making for a very smooth and refreshing cup. Very honey-like, aside from the astringency that leaves that dryness behind in the mouth.
AOT’s White Summer Rain: The color is a bit lighter this time, but the brew is thicker, giving that honey-like quality to the tea. Notes of sweetness are more pronounced, as is the melding of fruity flavors with juicy melon coming out on top. There is a slight tartness to the mix, like an unsweetened strawberry, but it only adds to the complex flavor of the tea. Very refreshing, even with the thicker mouthfeel.
3rd infusion – 9 minutes with steaming hot water from the teapot warmer (still fairly hot)
Adagio’s White Pear: More astringent this time, though the tea is lighter overall. The pear flavor has melded back with the tea flavor, producing a slightly harsher (though not unpleasant by any means) taste profile. Still sweet, still honeyed, though the scent is much lighter now. But it is leaving my mouth & throat more dry as well.
AOT’s White Summer Rain: Everything is lighter with this infusion, the taste, the color, the sweetness…but the flavors are still very complex, and the tartness at the end really enhances the overall experience. The scent still lingers over the tea, adding dimension to the flavors while sipping, and there’s still no astringency whatsoever. Very enjoyable even after three infusions, and still crisp and refreshing. I get the sense that this tea would be lovely iced as well as hot.
So the winner of our Great White Taste-Off is……
White Summer Rain from Art of Tea!
Congratulations to Art of Tea for such a lovely flavored white…I’ll be serving this tea to my guests on Sunday in a clear glass teapot with a glass infuser to show of the beautiful leaves as they brew. It will be served alongside Earl Grey de la crème from Dragonwater, Jasmine Bloom from Adagio, and Cranberry Blood-Orange (iced) from Republic of Tea.
I still love the White Pear as well…but White Summer Rain is the clear choice for a tea party, and I’m looking forward to the compliments from the guests who try it.