Posted by: dan | April 3, 2009

with bai mu dans

pai-mu-tan-header(title with sincere apologies to all, particularly The Magnetic Fields)

Dan: Once again, I find myself with the prospect of reviewing a solitary teabag from adagio. I will get around to some of those fancy tins of loose leaves at some point, I promise. But for now, I have a white tea to try: adagio’s Pai Mu Tan, or Bai Mu Dan as wikipedia would have you say, which is fine with me as it works slightly better for the tremendously awful pun I’ve entitled this post with. Sorry again about that, by the way, I know it doesn’t really work that well.

As I said, the Pai Mu Tan is a white tea, which seems to be one of my favourite types of tea. The packet states the teabag needs to be steeped in cooler water for 7 minutes. This time I did a little research first, and found that this actually means around 75 degrees Celsius, as adagio’s instructions don’t seem to be the most helpful, and there’s nothing on their website to explain any further. But I digress. The teabag smells slightly sweet and grassy out of the packet, and this seems to sweeten as it brews.

The tea is a pale yellow at the start of brewing

The tea is a pale yellow at the start of brewing

Incidentally, I don’t currently have any kind of fancy kettle with temperature gauges or presets or the like, so brewing has been mostly guesswork so far, until I was presented with a thermometer that had been hiding in the back of a drawer, as most useful things tend to do in houses. So the temperature was raised to about 77 degrees, and poured. After 7 minutes (lots of 7s here, is that lucky?), the water had turned from a pallid yellow to a luscious amber. Where the leaves had been dry, medium sized rolls, they were now fully opened, huge, and showed a variety of green and brown colours instead of the silvery white they were originally.

The tea has changed to a depper golden hue

The tea has changed to a deeper golden hue

It tastes magnificent. It’s almost regal, with a very fine texture and delicate taste. There’s a smoothness to it, but it is also has a very tiny ‘fuzzy’ quality to it, which means it grips the roof and sides of the mouth as you drink it. The initial taste when you sip it is sweet, but as you swallow, it develops a hint of bitterness. The grassiness is still evident in flavour, but the smell has dissipated to the brink of nothingness. As with most white teas, it is at its best when drunk slowly, with small sips. And when it’s at its best, this tea has a lot of character, and a lovely flavour. But there’s not a lot of depth to make you want to return. I get the impression that other Bai Mu Dans could have something a little extra and push it into a better, fuller flavour.

This is nevertheless a very good white tea, and I could see me drinking more of it, but it does seem to be a difficult tea to get right. Short picking seasons and stringent quality standards would surely mean that a lot of effort goes into the production, which once again makes me question the need to put the leaves in a bag. As with other adagio teas, the leaves seemed strangled, and really looked like they would be better if they were given the room to breathe. I might cut my next teabag open and see what awaits.

Dan was drinking adagio’s Pai Mu Tan white tea, available at ¬£4.99 for 15 teabags.

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