A friend emailed this morning, asking for suggestions for "something different" in a summer tea, meaning a less oxidized tea with what Chinese believe are "cooling" properties (she lives in a hot climate and isn't ready to drink oolong or puerh yet). Among Camellia sinensis varieties green and white teas are considered cooling, while herbal chrysanthemum tea is even more so.
A couple of teas I love came to mind off the top of my head. From the 2009 harvest there's a terrific white tea, Organic High Mountain White Peony. Organic and sun-dried, this tea is ultra-natural and affordably priced. It tastes very fresh and sweet, without the astringency of a green tea. It's actually the same variety of tea as our Imperial Silver Needles, but harvested later in the spring when the leaves have grown out more and aren't as elegantly uniform. It's full of flavor and stands up to many infusions. If you haven't tried it yet, it's one of the 2009 teas you definitely don't want to miss.
Another favorite is Yunnan Spring Tips, a green tea made from puerh leaves. Unlike most green teas it's a da ye (big leaf) variety and it's packed with aroma and flavors that are uncommon in green tea, including the fruitiness of puerh as well as a slight metallic tang from Yunnan's iron-rich red soil. Because of its puerh lineage, unlike virtually all green tea Yunnan Spring Tips ages well so you needn't worry about drinking up your supply quickly. If you visit Yunnan, where they take tea seriously, this is the type of tea you're often served in good restaurants.
Those are a couple of different summer teas. What do you turn to when you're ready for a change of pace in your gaiwan? Leave a comment and share your favorites!