The first day of my senior year in high school, the school principal calls my mother and says, "Where's Sophie?" Where Sophie was, was in the kitchen with cauldrons steaming, figuring out how to make wild grape jelly, picked in the dirt lanes bordering ancient pasture land above our house. I hadn't counted on the "speed bump" of school that day, had completely forgotten in fact. And to be fair, so had my mother. Long story short, I encountered another speed bump trying to hustle out the door -- my mother -- and I was ordered to clean up and wear a dress. You have to understand that in those far gone days, in that part of the country, wearing a dress to school was a tar and feathering. Neither I nor any of my liberated female classmates had worn a dress to school since the eighth grade. Let's just say a heated exchange occurred, at the end of which, Sophie wore the dress. The wild grape jelly was fabulous, by the way.
So why do I start a review of tea with a story? Because tea can play you... and a really good tea can dissolves the boundaries of time and place. I tasted this one and in an instant, I was 17, experiencing the exhilaration of making jelly from wild grapes I'd picked when the morning mists lay heavy in the meadows above our house. The intense, champagne-y note at the center of this tea is amazing.
So. More about the tea...
The "leaves" are about the size and shape of spruce needles -- silvery sage in color, velvety to the touch, and whole, no pieces. A small tin (.4 oz) does not hold many brews so measure your needles out carefully and save your pennies for the next purchase -- which you will do, which I am doing. This tea is just that special. I was happy with three infusions, but I'm sure it would be possible to coax out one or two more. The first infusion (which I took to the maximum 4 minutes at 175 degrees) was pale citron in color -- so pale I wondered whether I had poured too soon, but no... The first flavor to unfold is a golden honeysuckle sweetness followed in quick succession by a pronounced spike, right in the middle of the mouth, of the jasmine -- which held such intense intense fruitiness that I thought I was tasting wild grape jelly. Next to roll out: the honeyed base of white tea. No edge at all. This is an elixir that lives in the highest registers, gold rather than silver, because of the rounded edge of fruit in there. There is a very mild caffeine hit that can be felt once you notice you've drained your cup -- as well as the pot -- in your delirium. If you prefer more grounded teas, as I generally do, this one might strike you as too sweet. It did to me at first. But I think argument can always be made for more euphoria than less if opportunity presents itself. The first infusion definitely skyrockets to the outer stratosphere, quite heady! The second infusion produces a slightly deeper golden yellow color than the first infusion. It provides the same sweet, piercing wild concord grape note that is so startling in the first infusion. This note lengthens out as it cools. The white needles part of the tea opens out fruity without being "fat" about it. Very smooth mouth. I found cooler was more to my liking because the piercing sweetness calmed down. The third infusion is very nice -- honeyed, mild, jasmine-y.
Where the jasmine greens speak of newness of time, this rare jasmine white speaks to the fullness of experience. Love this tea.
I fell in love with this tea from the moment I opened the bag. I have always loved Silver Needle white tea, with its particular flavor blend of smooth and warm florals, so I couldn't help myself when I saw this Jasmine variety! It is scented beautifully, and I have had the flavors last well over several infusions in a row. It makes me smile every time I scoop it into my infuser, and I love the little, silvery "hairs" on the needles. Gorgeous and delicious. Will certainly recommend to my tea friends!—Anya