Roy and I sat down today to try some of the 2009 Spring Harvest green and white teas we didn't get around to last week, when we were sidetracked by the delicious new Imperial Green Oolong. We tried two tasty green teas and a real standout that Roy called one of the best teas of the season.
- Cui Feng: This classic Zhejiang green tea is distinguished by the tufts of fur that remain on each leaf, providing a beautiful contrast of color and texture, as well as adding the traditional "malty" taste of tea fur. This year's Cui Feng has a pleasant viscosity enhanced by the weight of the fur, and intense flavor of fresh green tea boosted by maltiness. The texture of this tea on the palate is what sets it apart from any other green tea you'll drink this year. Choose between aggressive brewing (hotter water, more time) to bring out the viscosity, or a milder approach that emphasizes sweetness.
- Snow Water Dragon Tips: This Zhejiang green tea will remind you of Dragon Well, with plenty of fresh green flavor. It's clean and sweet with an intriguing complexity and hints of nuttiness and malt. There's substantial viscosity, but it's silky rather than thick and heavy. In the second steeping we noticed that it lost a bit of sweetness, without becoming bitter.
- Imperial Silver Needles: Unlike last year's edition, the 2009 Imperial Silver Needles is totally sun-dried in the traditional manner, without any firing whatsoever. That gives the tea an uncanny freshness with subtle floral notes, reminiscent of a springtime stroll through a meadow full of wildflowers and soft new grass warming in the sun. When it comes to brewing, despite its delicacy this da ye (large leaf) Fujian white tea is extraordinarily forgiving. It responds to a wide range of water temperatures and steeping times, remaining sweet and fresh without ever becoming bitter. Roy says that along with Imperial Green Oolong and Imperial Lotus Heart Dragon Well, it's one of the most extraordinary teas of this year's spring harvest.