Bai Hao Yin Zhen
Another tea from my parents' Tea Tour of China, but this time with a taste test! A Bai Hao Yin Zhen battle between Fu Ming Fang and Seven Cups.
Another tea shipped by my parents from their Tea Tour of China is this Bai Hao Yin Zhen (Silver Needle) white tea. This particular tea was picked in 2012 by the Fu Ming Fang Tea Factory in Fuding, Fujian Province. If you're new to white tea, be sure to check out my Tea Series on white tea, where we sampled a Silver Needle from Seven Cups (more on that below). This tin that it came in is pretty awesome, I must admit.
There are few teas that are as instantly recognizable as Silver Needle. The small, rolled leaves and the white "hair" makes it easy to note the quality of the tea.
I thought it would be fun to do a "Pepsi Challenge" between this tea and the sample I had from Seven Cups, which I thought was an excellent quality. For the next few images I will have the Fu Ming Fang tea on the left, and the Seven Cups on the right. The former is from 2012 and the latter is from 2013. Both are certified organic and are brewed under identical circumstances.
Immediately apparent is that the Seven Cups (SC) is darker, less uniform, and not as well preserved as the Fu Ming Fang (FMF) version. This may have to do with packaging and handling, at least for the physical appearance.
Another picture of the leaves. I used the cups to measure out roughly the same quantity for each.
Both teas were brewed for 1:30 at 185F for the first steeping, and then for one minute at the same temperature for the second. Pictured is the first steeping, because the result was the same both times.
In this picture you can see that the SC tea steeps much darker than the FMF version. The FMF tea is nearly clear! Talk about a white tea!
A photo taken at the same location with light coming through. The SC tea looks quite yellow indeed, while the FMF might be the whitest white tea I've encountered.
After the first steeping. It is really obvious how much more uniform the FMF tea is. The leaves in the SC tea look purplish in comparison.
On to tasting. I sampled them by myself for the first steeping, then recruited my wife for the second one, and she did not know which was which. We both agreed that the SC version produced a more bitter and hay-tasting tea, while the FMF version was more astringent and its taste was clean. Again, both steepings produced the same results. I'm glad that I decided to do this experiment! With this knowledge I'll be able to determine the quality of Silver Needle better, and now I know more about the true taste of this tea.