Chrysanthemum Shou Mei (菊花清香寿眉白茶) is a white tea from Fujian Province that is blended with natural chrysanthemum flowers and comes compressed into individual mini cakes. Made from the larger, coarser leaves and stalks and whole chrysanthemum flowers, it produces a smooth and sweet flavour with herbal notes and a lasting tangy aftertaste. This particular batch was harvested and pressed in July 2021.
The base tea used here is the Shou Mei white tea, which 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 mini discs or cakes. These make for convenient storage but also for convenient serving, each mini cake being an individual serving. Blending tea with whole flowers, especially chrysanthemum flowers, is a traditional tea making technique in China. This is a popular tea in China, especially in summer, due to the cooling effect associated with chrysanthemum.
These Chrysanthemum Shou Mei mini discs consist of pressed Shou Mei white tea and whole chrysanthemum flowers. The aroma and taste of chrysanthemum really comes through and compliments the already lightly herbal flavour of the Shou Mei white tea. It produces a bright clear liquor with a sweet and herbaceous aroma. The smooth taste has a pronounced herbal aspect. Unlike a plain chrysanthemum tisane, this tea has more body and depth of flavour with sweet honey notes coming through. The aftertaste is lasting with a demerara sugar note and a clean, tangy and refreshing aspect.
We suggest brewing at 90°C for around 2-4 minutes according to your taste. Use one mini cake per serving and brew multiple times. For best results, we recommend gongfu style of brewing: 1 cake per 200ml at 95°C in a gaiwan or your favourite teaware with an initial quick rinse to start opening up the leaves. Alternatively, skip the rinse and extend the first infusion until the mini cake starts opening up. After that, follow with infusions of around 30 seconds, increasing the time with each subsequent steep.
This Chrysanthemum Shou Mei tea was first featured in our April 2022 Curious Tea Subscription Boxes.