Quite recently I was contacted by Umi Tea Sets, who wanted to know if they could send me some tea of their choosing to review. Naturally I wasn’t going to say no, so here is my review of this very unique beverage.
This popular and highly-prized tea is from China’s Zhejiang Province. It’s a white tea, but is distinctive from other whites in that it is processed in a similar manner to that of green tea. This gives you an interesting blend of refreshing white tea sweetness and the umami of a good green – which I shall get into in more detail shortly. It’s certainly an experience that I don’t believe any other tea will offer!
Firstly, I’d like to talk about the dry leaf aroma. The bag has been sitting opened for a few weeks now, and so it smells very different to when I first opened it to try. The aroma of any tea changes over time after opening, but the change in this one is simply – and delightfully – astonishing.
Dry leaf aroma on opening: hay; freshly mown grass; sweetcorn; butter.
Dry leaf aroma a week later: morning dew; apricots; spring rain; pomegranate; citrus peel.
Due to the physical appearance of this tea, I was not expecting this beautiful clear white shade of liquor at all. It really did take me by surprise. It looked fresh and light and the aroma was that of the sweetest, cleanest white tea. The wet leaves remained firm and green, and now that they’d been soaked I was able to see the tell-tale white fluffy tufts that show a good quality leaf.
I’ve now tried this tea at 4g, 5g and 6g with around 120ml of water heated to 75 degrees, and I find that I prefer the flavour if using just 4g of leaf. The tea has quite a strong umami flavour otherwise, which can quickly become bitter if you’re not careful. I wouldn’t recommend brewing it for longer than a few seconds to begin with, and once I started having to brew it for longer than 15 seconds the bitterness of the leaf came through. Like most delicate teas, this can only stand to be brewed around five times before needing to be thrown away: it’s not one of those teas that will just go on and on.
There is definitely a returning sweetness of apricots and honey; perhaps a faint hint of citrus, after the initial umami. There is also that summertime butter and corn taste which you would usually associate with green tea.
Overall, this is an enjoyable tea if you’re looking for something a little different, and if this is the usual tea quality from Umi Tea Sets then I would definitely recommend a purchase from them. Definitely one for spring and summer!