Osmanthus Shou Mei (桂花寿眉白茶) is a white tea from Fujian Province that is blended with natural osmanthus flowers and comes compressed into individual mini cakes. Made from the larger, coarser leaves and stalks and osmanthus flowers, it produces a soft flavour with woody and fruity notes. Unlike properly scented tea, this tea does not undergo any additional scenting, with the osmanthus flowers providing the only osmanthus flavour. As such the osmanthus taste and aroma is very mild and delicate, being just a light background note that nevertheless adds a different dimension to this white tea. 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 cakes. These make for convenient storage but also for convenient serving, each mini cake being an individual serving. Blending tea with whole flowers is a traditional tea making technique in China and the highly fragrant osmanthus blossom is a common scenting flower.
These Osmanthus Shou Mei mini cakes consist of pressed Shou Mei white tea and yellow osmanthus flowers. As this tea does not undergo any additional osmanthus scenting, the taste and aroma of osmanthus is very delicate. This means that the white tea flavour is the most dominant part, however the osmanthus flowers do add a slightly different dimension to the taste. These mini cakes produce a bright amber liquor with a slight aroma. The taste is very mild and smooth, with notes of dried fruits and a definite woody aspect. The florals are very minimal and provide a kind of a ‘ghost’ of osmanthus flavour. There are very smooth and pleasant honey sugared notes that are lightly sweet in the overall taste. The aftertaste has a tangy creamy aspect and leaves a soothing overall impression.
We suggest brewing at 90°C for around 3-4 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 150ml 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.