Aged Shou Mei Dragon Pearls (老寿眉白茶) is a vintage white tea from Fujian Province that comes compressed into individual pearls. Made from the larger, coarser leaves and stalks, it has been aged to produce a smooth and complex flavour with sweet medicinal notes. This particular batch was harvested and pressed in May 2015. After initial processing it was stored in Fujian until 2021.
Shou Mei is considered to be the 4th grade tea to come from the tea plants. The first grade is Yin Zhen Silver Needle that consists solely of fine tips. The second grade is Bai Mu Dan White Peony that consists of some tips plus smaller leaves. The third grade is called Gong Mei, although often this tea is combined under the more famous Shou Mei name. The fourth final grade that consists of coarser and larger leaves and fewer tips is called Shou Mei. The name Shou Mei (sometimes also Sow Mee) is often translated as ‘Longevity Eyebrow’.
Shou Mei is a type of tea of which very many grades exist and the flavour profile greatly changes from one producer to the next. The main driving factor behind that is how late the picking of the leaves is in the year and also by the proportion of larger coarser leaves. Such darker leaves normally signify lower quality and they produce a darker liquor, albeit with a more full-bodied flavour. This tea can come in loose form but is also commonly sold in pressed form, with large cakes being a particularly popular form. In this case, it was pressed into ~5g dragon pearls. These make for convenient storage but also for convenient serving, each dragon pearl being an individual serving. While aged white tea is a more recent development, they are quickly gaining in popularity due to unique and complex flavours that develop over time.
These aged white dragon pearls are formed of large, coarse, loosely pressed Shou Mei tea leaves. It produces a light amber liqour with a soft and delicate fragrance. The taste is smooth and the fruity profile delivers creamy and nutty notes with a verdant exotic fruit edge. The combination of flavours is somewhat reminiscent of custard apples. The aftertaste moves to a more tangy flavour with a hint of wild berries. Overall this is a fine aged tea, prefect for enjoying now but can also be left for longer to develop more complexity.
We suggest brewing at 95°C for around 3-4 minutes according to your taste. Use one pearl per serving and brew multiple times. For best results, we recommend gongfu style of brewing: 1 pearl per 150ml at 95°C in a gaiwan or your favourite teaware with an initial rinse to start opening up the pearl. Alternatively, skip the rinse and extend the first infusion until the pearl starts opening up. After that, follow with infusions of around 30 seconds, increasing the time with each subsequent steep.