The tea challenge is well underway but I had to stop everything and tell you about this tea. I’ve shared it before in one of my weekly wrap ups in What I’ve been Drinking. This tea has long been a favorite since I tried it during a tasting at my local tea shop. I have a few teas that fall into “always in stock” category and I have intentions to share them with you soon. But for now, I’d like to spend a few minutes telling you about this white tea, Jasmine Rose.
Since I was down to the last few teaspoons of leaves, I decided I would try something different today. My preprogrammed kettle has a setting for white tea at 185F; I press the button and walk away while the water heats. As a creature of habit and consistency especially when it comes to tea, I take the temperature and steep times very seriously, I do my best to STEEP IT REAL. My tea shop recommends a higher temperature of 200F, with a 2-3 minutes steep for this tea, which admittedl, I’ve ignored for years.
But at 185F, I never loved the first steep; it was nice but I was always eager for my second steep, my favorite, because I felt this steep really opens up the flavor profile. Sometimes people are afraid of floral teas because they might experience an unpleasant taste. I’ve had one before which tasted like I was drinking my grandmother’s perfume. Not recommended at all. But this blend of white tea is so perfectly suited, I’ve been apprehensive about messing up a good thing.
Well, I am happy to report, my initial thoughts have changed–today’s first steep was love at first sip. I couldn’t believe I was having such a tea-lightful and might I add, tea-licious experience. The first steep is pictured on the far right, the second steep is in the larger cup in the middle of the two books.
I loved the first steep so much I immediately felt the need to run off and replenish my supply swifTea (swiftly – OK maybe that was a stretch on the tea pun) but I’m going to savor this memory of this first steep, and yes, count another tea this week as finished. The subtlety of the rose and jasmine are well suited what I’d like to call perfect partners. They don’t compete with each other, they feel enchanted and at the same time, creating a strong desire to have a tea party in the middle of a botanical garden. As much as I’d love to, the allergens in the environment right now don’t make this ideal, unless of course, there’s a garden with an enclosed room of windows bringing the flowers in my, but leaving the allergens outside. This might have also turned into an unintentional book + tea pairing, but these books with this tea–winners!
The second steep, while hot, wasn’t like I remembered probably because the first steep was so outstanding. But as I write this post, the second cup has cooled and it’s as wonderful and more reminiscent of a fuller flavor experience. I enjoyed my third steep, which is much more subdued than the first two, but once again, when it cooled, I could find traces of the flavors I enjoy.
What I’ve learned today and from other tea enthusiasts recently, is that you can’t be afraid to take a few chances with your tea leaves, adjusting the temperature a few degrees. One chance I don’t recommend is using boiling water with this delicate white tea. But other lessons are clear. (1) Listen and experiment — the provider of a quality loose leaf tea won’t lead you in the wrong direction when it comes to your steep. It’s ok to try some incremental changes, within reason, to open up your tea experience. (2) Wait. Letting your tea cool can surprise you. As this steep off proves, your first cup can be as good and enjoyable as your second and third.
Would you like to see more steep offs?